Glyphosate

Court Decision

Glyphosate is the trade name of the weedkilller (herbicide) which we see on the shelves sold as 'Roundup'
Monsanto ordered to pay $289million in Roundup's first cancer trial. The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer. Monsanto, a unit of Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States. Series of lawsuits following decision
Decision upheld "San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos ruled against Bayer’s appeal of the Monsanto Cancer Verdict and upheld the jury’s decision that the glyphosate-based weedkiller (aka Roundup) sold by Monsanto caused a California man’s terminal cancer and that Monsanto intentionally hid its dangers. " Bayer (who purchased Monsanto about a year ago) Stock Crashes Analyst Estimates $800 Billion In Future Liability
Nearly 8,000 glyphosate trials are being bought that could threaten Bayer, who has just bought Monsanto, in the United States. The German chemical giant hopes the Dewayne Johnson judgment will be invalidated.

BBC What we know about Glyphosate 17 Questions about Glyphosate The Problem with Glyphosate

Glyphosate is a weedkiller whose use has increased dramatically over last 25 years. Originally it was used to kill weeds like couch grass, a perennial grass weed. But as it has become cheaper (when Monsanto's patent ran out) it is also used to dry off crops just before harvest, (making the crop easier to harvest) and now for 'no tillage' techniques (establishing a seed bed without ploughing).

Cancer?

Since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report saying that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling pesticide Roundup, could 'probably' cause cancer, there have been many campaigns to get the stuff banned. However, journalist Kate Kelland, who works for the Reuters news agency, critiques the IARC saying they “dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer."A key section of the IARC assessment underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was made public. One effect of the changes to the draft...was the removal of multiple scientists’ conclusions that their studies had found no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals.” She says there may be good reasons why these studies were ignored by IARC. More. Lots more in Chapter 9 of Bittersweet Brexit . French scientist calls for investigation into IARC's role. More from Accuracy in Public Health Research about data suppression in original IARC Monograph.

My verdict

There is a great chunk in the book to refer to,. There are those screaming 'ban it' (inc IUF and many friends) on basis of this judgment. Whereas other old friends are screaming 'go by the science and there isnt a case'. (See below). These claims may well reflect the differences between law and science.
Both should be based on evidence and weighing up that evidence - as no evidence is perfect. In law that happens in a closed space, is specific to that case, where two sides present the evidence and is decided yes/no at the end on the basis of probability by a randomly selected group, with no experience of the procedures. They don't have much choice; no ifs or buts, but guilty or not guilty. If I'd been on the jury I'd have probably voted guilty (I'm not actually sure as I haven't read the transcripts). Part of that judgment would be based on how each side presented their case - witness 100s of TV programmes. In other words there are very specific circumstances - which cannot necessarily be generalised, any more than banning cars because someone was jailed for running over somebody yesterday..
Whereas science (maddeningly) says 'on the one hand this..while on the other that', and the classic 'more research is needed. The 'judgement is based on various sciences - in particular toxicoology and epidemiology, and is usually decided by the 'scientific community'. This consists of scientists of different experience and expertise, based on years of high class training and education. For example, over 90% of scientist believe global warming is happening, and 88% believe that GM crops do not pose a threat to food safety. Some of my scientist friends say 'it must be decided by science', And that is what we tried to do while I was on the UK government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides, but when it comes to assessing risk it is not that clearcut. There is a whole debate whether we should control chemical based on 'risk' or 'hazards' - the EU prefers 'hazards' whereas the UK prefers 'risks'. Say with Roundup, the EU determined the inherent hazards of Roundup were acceptable, then it came to the ACP to approve pesticides based on people following the legal requirements - which may well be stricter here than in US. I and others made sure of that working with the HSE for many years.
There are always biases - that is where the weighing of evidence comes in. With Roundup the bias exists because Monsanto can pay for research whereas the public purse can't. However, looking over a lot of the evidence, it does not make a case that glyphosate is likely to cause cancer in people. I thought the original IARC/WHO paper that moved the classification of glyphosate from 'possible' (2B) to 'probable' (2A) was thin. It missed out a massive survey that found no evidence (see IARC below). The IARC Monograph was lead by a man called Blair (!), who quoted his own work, whereas the EU EFSA committee - that decided there is no real risk - does not allow committee participants to use their own work in assessment. Even accepting it as 'probable' means it is in the same category of risk (2a) as hairdressing and red meat; I don't hear people screaming to ban them.
Suggest1 There should be a massive epidemiological study of glyphosate workers (paid by Monsanto but run by international science body), 2 We should be looking at the environmental consequences (more serious - see book for whole section), and in particular practice of spraying pre-harvest.3 Anybody who clicks a 'ban it' button should know what the alternatives are (eg Paraquat, which definately kills lots of people every year), and be prepared to do a day's hoeing to see what the chemical is there to do..

Monsanto Papers

The Monsanto papers - produced as part of the major lawsuit against Monsanto - shows how they want science on their side - providing it is the 'right' science. Or is it corruption of science?
"Monsanto papers", disinformation organized around glyphosate. "Le Monde" shows how the powerful American firm has published articles co-written by its employees and signed by scientists to counter the information denouncing the toxicity of glyphosate.
A warehouse storing Roundup - glyphosate canisters, in Zarate, Argentina, in May 2014.Strategic memos, emails, confidential contracts ... The "Monsanto papers" continue to deliver little and big secrets. After a first chapter published last June, Le Monde once again plunged into the tens of thousands of pages of internal documents that the agrochemical giant was forced to publish following court proceedings in the United States, United.Monsanto is being prosecuted in this country by a growing number of complainants - now 3,500 - victims or relatives of victims who died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, and attributed to exposure to glyphosate. This weed killer, introduced on the market in 1974, notably under the name of Roundup, has established itself as a worldwide best seller by being the essential auxiliary of genetically modified seeds to tolerate it. Monsanto owes him his fortune. But at what cost ?The last delivery of "Monsanto papers", declassified in the summer of 2017, unveils a hitherto unknown activity of the multinational: ghostwriting - literally "ghost writing". Considered as a serious form of scientific fraud, this practice consists of acting as a "phantom author" for a company: while its own employees write texts and studies, it is scientists who are not subordinate to it, signing, thus bringing the prestige of their reputation to publication. The latter are of course remunerated for this valuable service of "laundering" messages of the industry. In the utmost secrecy, Monsanto has used these strategies.Conflicts of interestTake the case of the American biologist Henry Miller. He became a full-time polemicist and associated with the Hoover Institution, the well-known think tank at the prestigious Stanford University, and several times a month, he made a series of sharp tones ...AND THEN THERE IS THIS Monsanto's War

IARC

"Ever since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report suggesting that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling pesticide Roundup, could cause cancer, there has been a relentless campaign to discredit the agency.One of the champions of that campaign is journalist Kate Kelland, who works for the Reuters news agency. Her latest critique, published October 19, announced the IARC “dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer. Documents seen by Reuters show how a draft of a key section of the IARC assessment of glyphosate – a report that has prompted international disputes and multi-million-dollar lawsuits – underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was finalised and made public.One effect of the changes to the draft...was the removal of multiple scientists’ conclusions that their studies had found no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals.” However the article continues saying there may be good reasons why these studies were ignored by IARC. I cant help but think there needs to be a whole new set of tests agreed by all..More from Accuracy in Public Health Research about data suppression in original IARC Monograph