Common weed killer glyphosate increases cancer risk by 41%, study says

By Emily Dixon, CNN

(CNN)Glyphosate, an herbicide that remains the world’s most ubiquitous weed killer, raises the cancer risk of those exposed to it by 41%, a new analysis says.Researchers from the University of Washington evaluated existing studies into the chemical — found in weed killers including Monsanto’s popular Roundup — and concluded that it significantly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the immune system.”All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” the authors wrote in a study published in the journal Mutation Research.

The potential carcinogenic properties of glyphosate are the subject of widespread scientific debate. The US Environmental Protection Agency said in a 2017 draft risk assessment that the herbicide “is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” while the European Food Safety Authority maintains a similar stance. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, said the same year that glyphosate is a “safe and efficient weed control tool.”

In 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Moreover, the chemical has triggered multiple lawsuits from people who believe that exposure to the herbicide caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2017, CNN reported that more than 800 people were suing Monsanto; by the following year, that figure was in the thousands.

One high-profile case against Monsanto was that of Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper diagnosed with terminal non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014. In August 2018, a judge ordered Monsanto to pay Johnson $289 million in damages, an award subsequently reduced to approximately $78 million after Monsanto appealed.

The authors of the University of Washington report analyzed all published studies on the impact of glyphosate on humans. Co-author and doctoral student Rachel Shaffer said in a statement: “This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators.” The scientists also assessed studies on animals.

Focusing on data relating to people with the “highest exposure” to the herbicide, the researchers concluded that a “compelling link” exists between glyphosate exposure and a greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Senior author Lianne Sheppard, professor in biostatistics and environmental and occupational health sciences, said she was “convinced” of the carcinogenic properties of the chemical.

In a statement, Bayer called the new analysis a “statistical manipulation” with “serious methodological flaws,” adding that it “provides no scientifically valid evidence that contradicts the conclusions of the extensive body of science demonstrating that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic.”

The authors of the new study acknowledged some limitations of their analysis, noting that “only limited published data” was available. Moreover, they wrote, studies they evaluated varied in the population groups they targeted: specifically, the glyphosate exposure levels of the participants differed between reports.

The available studies also neglected to assess the impact of the “green burndown” farming method, which sees glyphosate herbicides added to crops before they are harvested. Glyphosate residue has probably increased since the introduction of this method in the mid-2000s, the researchers wrote.

Francis Martin, a biosciences professor at the University of Central Lancashire, told CNN he welcomed the University of Washington report. He called the debate over the safety of glyphosate “important,” explaining that “glyphosate is used as a general purpose herbicide so there will be exposure in the general population.”

However, he noted that the report was limited by the small number of existing studies on the subject, though he stressed that the authors were “honestly self-reflective on the limitations of the analyses.”

“[The report] highlights the need for new, well-designed and robust studies at appropriate exposure levels,” Martin said, adding, “The number of robust studies in the literature examining this question is pathetically small.”

‘SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE, WE CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS’ A LOCAL FAMILY SPEAKS OUT AFTER DEALING WITH A BED BUG INFESTATION

A local family came to News 10 with concerns after claiming a book from the library invaded their home with bed bugs.Posted: Apr. 10, 2019 7:11

By: Jordan Kudisch

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- A local family reached out to News 10 with concerns regarding bed bugs.

Charles Edwards and his wife told us they believe the bugs came from a book they checked out at the Vigo County Public Library.

“It crawled out of my book and I flicked it off because I had no idea what it was,” said Edwards.

Edwards and his wife read books regularly and shared their disappointment after they found the bugs.

“We love to read. Now we are afraid to go back because of the bugs,” said Edwards.

They told us they spent thousands of dollars fumigating the house with hopes the bugs would disappear. 

“She would get up at night and go to the bathroom and find something on her. We didn’t know what they were, we didn’t know they were bed bugs and that’s hell when you have to live with that,” said Edwards.

Vigo County Public Library Public Relations Manager, Elizabeth Scamihorn, told us pest control experts checked the area at the time of the claims and they did not find any trace of bed bugs at the time.

“Vigo County Library wants to make sure that the public is welcomed into a clean and safe environment so we have several different proactive measures we have in place to make sure that we have eradicated insects if they make their way into our facility,” said Scamihorn. 

Bed bugs are commonly mistaken for being related to dirty places and that is not the case.

According to experts, the bugs do not like grime, they prefer the warmth and blood however, they can be found in the spine of a book.

News 10 also spoke with the Terre Haute Health Department and they told us in 2018 they received 37 complaints about bed bugs.

The department said the bugs are not a health concern because they don’t carry diseases.

The Edwards family’s biggest concern is the invasion on their home.

“There needs to be something done like I’ve said before the library we love it, it’s a great place, but once you get something like that it costs you the price we paid and that’s a hell of a price to pay for books. We wish we could go back but were afraid to,” said Edwards.

The family told News 10 they don’t want to blame anyone for the issue, they just want to inform the public that bed bugs exist in the area.

Toddler and mum die from gas poisoning after bedroom is sprayed with pesticides

Galymzhan Zhailauov, the exterminator, is due to stand trial accused of killing a two-year-old and 29-year-old woman

By Roksana Panashchuk & Amber Hicks

Mum Shynarai Suiindik died in hospital (Image: KTK)

A toddler has died from gas poisoning after her bedroom was sprayed with a deadly pesticide by an exterminator trying to get rid of bedbugs.

The two-year-old youngster was killed alongside a 29-year-old woman, while seven others were rushed to hospital with acute intoxication after breathing in the gas at a block of flats.

Now the exterminator who carried out the work is due to stand trial over their deaths.

Galymzhan Zhailauov claims he did not know that the pesticide he was using is so toxic for humans and that it may cause brain damage and death.

Galymzhan Zhailauov, the exterminator (Image: KTK)

The 25-year-old was hired by an exterminating company in spite of not having any knowledge or experience in the field, it has been claimed.

He received instructions and explanations on how to work via a messenger, local media report.

Five months ago, Zhailauov was called by residents of an apartment block to deal with bedbugs in the city of Aktau in southwestern Kazakhstan Mangystau Region.

He took a pesticide named ‘Quick Force’, which is supposed to be only used in agriculture as it is toxic for humans and may cause brain damage and death if used in residential areas, reports say.

Zhailauov clams he was not aware the pesticide was dangerous when heartily spraying the substance on the floor, windowsills and beds in the residents’ apartments.

The block of flats where the pesticide was used (Image: KTK)

After being sprayed inside the flats, the pesticide released methyl bromide, a colourless and odourless gas which is toxic to humans.

Two of the victims, 29-year-old Shynarai Suiindik and two-year-old Firuza Dastankyzy died from gas poisoning in the hospital.

Seven other victims survived the incident.

Mrs Suiindik’s mother-in-law Zhanylsyn Sisengalieva has demanded punishment for all those responsible for the tragedy.

She said: “My daughter-in-law died because of the negligence of the exterminator, his company and officials. All of them should be punished.

Victim Shynarai Suiindik’s mother-in-law Zhanylsyn Sisengalieva (Image: KTK)

“My little granddaughter constantly asks me, ‘Where is my mother?’, and I do not know what to say”.

Local media report Zhailauov had been working as an exterminator for five months.

He had been hired by the ‘Tarakan-Net’ exterminating company in spite of not having any knowledge or experience in the field.

He told local media: “I bought the pesticide at a local market for 10, 000 tenge [£20].

“I received detailed instructions on how to use it and where to spray it in the flats from my company via a messenger.

“I used it earlier as well and did not have any problems.

Expert Aleksandr Fokin said the pesticide used in the incident “is deadly dangerous to humans” (Image: KTK)

“When I told them [his bosses] that some people died, they said, ‘It is your problem.’”

Aleksandr Fokin, a local expert, said: “The pesticide used in the incident is deadly dangerous to humans.

“The pesticide releases methyl bromide, a colourless gas that damages the human brain.

“It is used in agriculture to control pests and forbidden to use in residential areas.

“It is illegal to sell it at a regular market. It should be sold only to agriculture companies.”

Zhailauov is accused of violation of health regulations resulting in death and is standing trial.

The Tarakan-Net company representatives and local officials have yet to comment on the incident.

The suspect faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty.

School official: Bed bugs found at Waterbury school

Kaitlyn Naples

WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) — A school official confirms health officials are working to clear up a bed bug issue at a school in Waterbury.

The bed bugs were found at the Waterbury Career Academy on Wednesday.

Waterbury School’s Chief Operating Officer Will Clark said the proper protocol went into effect and the health department brought in cleaning crews.

“There is no risk of harm to students, staff or visitors. Bed bugs are common in the United States. They do not transmit disease and pose no immediate health risk to humans. Instances of health impacts are linked to scratching of bites and potential infection or allergic reaction. Any suspected bite should be checked by a health professional and treated accordingly,” school officials said in a press release.

Throughout the day, parents could be spotted picking up their kids from the school. 

“She called me on the phone and said, ‘you need to come get me.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there, what’s going on?’ She said, ‘we got bed bugs,'” said Joyce Bond, a parent. 

Bond hurried over to the high school.

“We were in second period and they said they found bed bugs in the third floor in one of the classrooms,” said Brenda Lasky. 

Staff immediately instituted it’s protocol, contacting the health department, along with the school facilities department, and the bus company. 

“We’re taking the appropriate steps, cleaning all the areas that may have been impacted. That was underway immediately and we’re working with the school and the folks in question, the health department in particular, to make sure the source to the extent we can identify is remediated as well,” said Will Clark, Chief Operating Officer, Waterbury Public Schools. 

While the thought is the bed bugs were brought in from outside the school, parents say it’s still an uneasy feeling to know there’s a chance your kid could come in contact with one. 

Weed killer residues found in 98 percent of Canadian honey samples

Study is the latest evidence that glyphosate herbicides are so pervasive that residues can be found in foods not produced by farmers using glyphosate.

Carey Gillam

As U.S. regulators continue to dance around the issue of testing foods for residues of glyphosate weed killers, government scientists in Canada have found the pesticide in 197 of 200 samples of honey they examined.

The authors of the study, all of whom work for Agri-Food Laboratories at the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said the prevalence of glyphosate residues in honey samples – 98.5 percent – was higher than what was reported in several similar studies done over the last five years in other countries.

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide and is the active ingredient in Roundup brands as well as hundreds of others sold around the world for agriculture and other purposes. Use has grown dramatically over the last 25 years and consumers have become concerned about residues of the herbicide in their food.

The data provides fresh evidence that glyphosate herbicides are so pervasive in the environment that residues can be found even in a food that is not produced by farmers using glyphosate. The researchers noted in their report that they ran into delays trying to calibrate their testing equipment “due to difficulties encountered in obtaining a honey sample which did not contain traces of glyphosate.”

Bees pick up traces of pesticides as they move from plant to plant, unintentionally transferring residues from crops or weeds sprayed with glyphosate back to their hives.

In a different study, researchers on the Hawaiian island of Kauai took honey directly from 59 bee hives and found glyphosate residues in 27 percent of them. The Hawaiian researchers said bee hives located near farming areas as well as golf courses where glyphosate is used had higher concentrations of the pesticide.

The Canadian report also comes amid growing evidence that glyphosate herbicides can cause cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On Tuesday a jury in San Francisco unanimously found that Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide made popular by chemical manufacturer Monsanto Co., use was a “substantial factor” in causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a California man. That echoed a similar unanimous jury verdict handed down in August in a separate case in which a cancer victim also alleged his disease was due to exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides.

Both verdicts came after plaintiffs’ lawyers presented evidence of multiple studies showing the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, including one published last month in a journal whose editor is a senior scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Canadians’ decision to examine honey samples for glyphosate comes after a similar look at honey samples by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration chemist in 2017. That FDA scientist found all 28 honey samples he looked at had traces of glyphosate, with 61 percent of the samples having enough glyphosate to be measured. The other samples had residues of the herbicide too slight to measure.

“Safe” levels

Credit: Mike Mozart/flickr

The Canadian report, published in a journal called Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, said that glyphosate is currently an active ingredient in 181 herbicides registered for use in Canada and its widespread use has made it commonly found in the environment.

The study authors pointed out that Canada, like the United States, does not have a legal standard for how much of the herbicide is considered safe in honey. Regulators in different countries set what are referred to as “maximum residue limits” (MRLs) and tell consumers their food is safe if pesticide residues remain below the MRLs. In Europe, the MRL for glyphosate in honey is 0.05 mg/kg, also expressed as 50 μg/kg.

The Canadian study authors said that all of the levels they found were below the European limit, though the highest was just barely within the legal limit. Because the residues did not exceed the MRL, they said, “the risk to consumer health appears to be quite low based on the residues detected.”

Several of the residue levels found by the FDA scientist in U.S. honey were above that so-called safe level that applies in the European Union. But the FDA, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA, assert that as long as pesticide residues are below the legal MRLs, they are not harmful.

Many scientists do not agree that MRLs actually are protective of public health, however.

“People think the standards are protective of public health but they are not,” Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College, told EHN. “The optimal amount” of pesticide residues in food is “zero,” he said. “Remember, many of the people eating honey are children.”

A team of Harvard scientists published a commentary in October stating that more research about potential links between disease and consumption of pesticide residues is “urgently needed” as more than 90 percent of the U.S. population has pesticide residues in their urine and blood.

The United States has fallen behind Europe, Canada and other countries in testing foods for residues of glyphosate. Though both the FDA and the USDA annually test thousands of food samples for pesticide residues and report the data in reports, both agencies have not included glyphosate in their yearly testing programs.

In fact, the honey test data gathered by the FDA chemist was never published by the FDA and was not included in the agency’s first-ever glyphosate testing data that was released late last year as part of the annual test data report.

The USDA has similarly balked at testing foods for glyphosate residues for decades. The agency planned to start limited testing in 2017 but dropped the plan with little explanation only a couple of months before testing was to have started.

Legislative push for testing

Amid all the concerns about glyphosate and residues in food, U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut this month introduced a measure called the “Keep Food Safe From Glyphosate Act.” The bill would require the USDA to routinely test food samples for glyphosate residues.

The bill would also ban the spraying of glyphosate as a desiccant on oats. The practice is employed by some farmers to dry their oats before harvesting. It makes harvest more efficient but leaves higher residues on finished oat-based foods.

Monsanto, now a unit of Bayer AG, has marketed glyphosate for use on oats as a desiccant for years, and the company also has successfully convinced the EPA to raise the MRL for glyphosate residues allowed in oat products. In 1993, for example, the EPA had a tolerance for glyphosate in oats at 0.1 parts per million (ppm) but in 1996 Monsanto asked EPA to raise the tolerance to 20 ppm and the EPA did as asked. In 2008, at Monsanto’s suggestion, the EPA again looked to raise the tolerance for glyphosate in oats, this time to 30 ppm.

In her bill, DeLauro is looking to slash the MRL for glyphosate residues in oats to 0.1 ppm.

Canadian farmers are among the world’s top producers of oats, and desiccation with glyphosate has been a common practice there.

Health Canada has rejected concerns about glyphosate safety, saying: “No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed.”

In addition to testing for glyphosate residues, the Canadian scientists also tested for residues of glyphosate’s main degradation product, a metabolite called aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA). Like glyphosate, AMPA has long been considered to have low toxicity. AMPA was detected in 198 of the 200 samples up to a concentration of 50.1 μg/kg.

“The contribution of glyphosate and AMPA residues present in the ambient environment to contamination of plant nectar and subsequently honey itself is further complicated by the variations in the levels of these compounds in environmental matrices such as soil and surface water,” the scientists said in their report.

The scientists also looked for residues of the weed killer glufosinate and found residues of that herbicide in 125 of 200 samples, with the maximum concentration detected being 33 μg/kg.

Glufosinate is the active ingredient in BASF’s Liberty herbicide.

Carey Gillam is a journalist and author, and a public interest researcher for US Right to Know, a not-for-profit food industry research group.