Glypho cancer claims a wake-up call

27 Mar, 2015 01:00 AM
We need farmers to carry on farming, not to be killed off

A VETERINARY pathologist has warned the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings on glyphosate should serve as a wake-up call for Australian agriculture.

Matt Landos, who currently works in the aquaculture industry in Port Lincoln, South Australia, says he believes the IARC findings that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic should spark a review of the pesticides approval process in Australia.

“Glyphosate is the biggest product in the market, its use is so widespread, yet there is more and more evidence of the dangers of the organophosphate pesticides, which includes glyphosate.

“I think we need to be looking at the APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) and its procedures in terms of determining the safety of products.”

“This is just another example of the need for change in terms of the way the APVMA makes its decisions.”

Dr Landos acknowledged there had been massive productivity gains by using glyphosate, but said this may prove to be false economy on an overall level.

“If we begin to see increasing rates of cancer and the cost that puts on our health system then that could cost much more.”

However, Adam Blight, corporate affairs manager for Monsanto Australia, which produces the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, said Australians could rest assured products used here were safe.

“The APVMA conducts rigorous testing on all pesticides.

“It is technically competent and globally recognised, it is regarded as a world class regulator, so Australians can be confident the food they eat is produced in a safe way.”

However, Dr Landos said reports such as that from the IARC showed residue levels previously considered to be safe could be harmful.

“Australians need protection, and with the APVMA we have one of the slowest regulators to change in the world. With something like the insecticide endosulfan, we were the 80th country in the world to ban it.”

Dr Landos said although there was farmer outcry at the prospect of changing glyphosate regulations, he was not anti-agriculture.

“I believe we need farmers to carry on farming, not to be killed off, and the evidence is there to suggest farmers have higher rates of cancer than the general population.”

Mr Blight countered, saying he had research suggesting the opposite.

Dr Landos acknowledged changes to pesticide use would be difficult, particularly in industries dealing with bulk commodities such as grains, where premiums for low residue or organic products are less or where glyphosate boosted productivity by big margins, but said it needed to be looked at.

“We need the research and development to be looking beyond the narrow sphere of herbicides for productivity gains.”

“There’s non-chemical technologies for weed control such as microwave energy or steam application showing some promise, so we need to ensure work continues on these types of research.”

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


30/03/2015 2:29:05 PM

You don't have to be a scientist to know that we have all been using it for decades and we are still alive so it must not cause cancer. I used it without a cab on the tractor for at least 10 years and I don't have cancer. Who sprays crops we eat with Glypo anyway? You spray weeds with it not food we eat. It is a non residual herbicide. It hasn't killed the worms yet and it won't kill us either.
30/03/2015 9:01:17 PM

Fred Haskins - what you fail to say is also significant . Plenty of the Seralini's rats that were fed the non-GM diets also had horrific cancers.
31/03/2015 6:06:17 AM

Invey, are you serious? 80% of GM crops have been engineered to be sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) which is absorbed into the plant and then eaten. The chemical is so popular as a desiccant the WA Farmers group applied to have the maximum residue level of glypho in some food crops increased from 2 to 20 parts per million to account for this. As for the Seralini study the GM fed rats developed earlier cancers at a higher rate than non-GM fed rats, with most of the GM-fed females developing mammary tumours.
31/03/2015 9:37:04 AM

Fred Haskins - you write that Seralini's studies have been replicated and show the same carcinogenic effects as before. I am not familiar with any reference showing the info from those latter studies. It would be useful to me and no doubt others if you give us the reference to those studies. Invey and Fred - you really need to recognise that there have been more than 20 long term or multigenerational animal studies with GM food, mostly done by independent groups - they find no harm. Again, farm animals and pets have now eaten GM foods for decades and generations without harm.
31/03/2015 3:46:09 PM

Sorry Invey ! - I mistakenly wrote Invey and Fred when I should have written Hebe and Fred .
1/04/2015 11:16:22 AM

Oliver, high probability you are correct. However, a low probability you are wrong. Would GM food be safe for astronauts on a mission to Mars for example? Has this been tested? And what if the crew of 3 females and 2 came back healthy and well nourished? Would the same result have occurred with 2 females and 3 males? These are the sorts of unresolved questions that keep Hebe, WTF and Fred awake at night. Me, I worry about nocturnal meteorite strikes. I feel safer during the day cos I have never seen a meteor then. What chronic effect will roundup have on this danger? U don't even know, I bet.
1/04/2015 4:34:38 PM

jeffito - your comments are spot-on. No food, GM or non-GM, can be or has been proven to be absolutely safe. Fred - please provide us with the reference.
2/04/2015 8:07:45 AM

Can Jeff and Oliver list their relevant human medical training to determine the safety of food we eat and why they would oppose Austn medical regulators doing their own safety testing? If this about science and we are requesting a use of our own independent testing by the relevant expertise, why would u fight it so?
2/04/2015 1:33:57 PM

The mob that did the study has form. They cherry picked data and did not complete a time length study but grabbed a few choice words out of other papers that have been rewritten. The Germans just gave the chemical an OK. Do we need to rush to print with every scare campaign that is launched. Take a breath and get a life. Watch out for the ocean as well as it has sharks in it and no fence around it. Bloody hell!
Fred Haskins
4/04/2015 5:50:53 AM

Oliver, Google GMO Seralini, Seralini replies to FCT. Journal over study retractions. Have you ever taken the time to hear him speak? Maybe you would be a little more accomodating to his and others studies on the subject. Incidently, I drink alcohol, and spray Roundup, but both in moderation, but not only that I don't mind putting my name behind my thoughts
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