The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released results to the public of its evaluation of whether fifty-two known chemicals could be considered disruptors of the endocrine system—in other words, chemicals that disrupt the workings of the body’s hormones and the glands linked to those hormones, which can conceivably lead to birth defects and reproductive cancers. Notably, one of these chemicals was glyphosate, a substance that is the main active ingredient in Roundup, the brand name for Monsanto’s ubiquitous herbicide that is used all over the world. The U.S. alone uses millions of pounds of the substance every year.
It has been a controversial year for glyphosate, as early this March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the substance a possible cancer-causing agent, much to the shock of the agricultural industry. A sigh of relief for the business came later, when the EPA determined after some research that there was no compelling evidence that glyphosate disrupts endocrine processes in the body.
As Sharon Lerner revealed over at The Intercept , of the 32 studies the EPA used to make its determination that there is “no convincing evidence” that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, 27 were either conducted or funded by the agrichemical industry. “Most of the studies were sponsored by Monsanto or an industry group called the Joint Glyphosate Task Force,” Lerner wrote. “One study was by Syngenta, which sells its own glyphosate-containing herbicide, Touchdown.”
More telling, when Lerner reviewed the paltry five independently funded studies the EPA relied on for its determination, three of them concluded glyphosate could very well pose a danger to the endocrine system.
“Yet, of the 27 industry studies, none concluded that glyphosate caused harm,” Lerner added, even though “many of the industry-funded studies contained data that suggested that exposure to glyphosate had serious effects.” No less worrisome is that a majority of the studies were more than two decades old—thereby predating the existence of the term “endocrine disruption.”
Recently, a senior researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed allegations that he was harassed after publicly voicing concerns about another popular class of pesticides. You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder just how “independent” and “rigorous” our federal regulatory agencies are when it comes to evaluating the risks posed by all those agrichemicals out there coating all those amber waves of grain.
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