30 October 2017

Monsanto and another example of dirty science

I am not a fan of Monsanto or of any other chemical/biological giant. These corporations do not exist solely for the good of humanity. Profit is their other motivator as well, and thanks for the motivators, I guess.

The story, however, happens to be in favor of the above mentioned corporation, be warned. If you are of an especially baleful disposition and cannot abide that name being presented in a good light, click "out".

In the previous post, The neo-Luddites and their apples, which was dedicated to GMO products and their perceived threat to humanity, I have mentioned two odious characters: Andrew Wakefield and Gilles-Éric Séralini. Each of the two accomplished a serious breach of moral contract a scientist makes with his own consciousness and with his colleagues, when entering the field of research. Each of the two faked the results of his research to fit his own preconception (or misconception favored by an influential group of people for some reason).

Wakefield and Séralini, though, worked more or less alone or in small, easily dominated by them, group of junior researchers. For the purpose we may consider them to be lone wolves. The case in question is vastly different. We are looking at a multinational guardian of our health, financed and managed by WHO (World Health Organization) and purported to be an objective and unbribable defense against all who endanger (knowingly or not) our well-being. I am talking about IARC - International Agency for Research on Cancer. And here we are:
The World Health Organization’s cancer agency 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.

IARC, based in Lyon, France, wields huge influence as a semi-autonomous unit of the WHO, the United Nations health agency. It issued a report on its assessment of glyphosate - a key ingredient in Monsanto Corp’s top-selling weedkiller RoundUp - in March 2015. It ranked glyphosate a Group 2a carcinogen, a substance that probably causes cancer in people.
It is a big deal for several reasons. First of all, RoundUp is a popular weedkiller, used by thousands (if not millions) of farmers all over the world, including Europe. Then, glyphosate, its chief ingredient, is produced and known for about 40 (yes, forty) years.
In the 40 or so years since the weedkiller first came to the market, glyphosate has been repeatedly scrutinized and judged safe to use.
Of course, the number of years shouldn't be a factor in the results of the study. After all, people make mistakes, don't they?

Reuters found 10 significant changes that were made between the draft chapter on animal studies and the published version of IARC’s glyphosate assessment. In each case, a negative conclusion about glyphosate leading to tumors was either deleted or replaced with a neutral or positive one. Reuters was unable to determine who made the changes.
So how about IARC coming clean with the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
IARC did not respond to questions about the alterations. It said the draft was “confidential” and “deliberative in nature.” After Reuters asked about the changes, the agency posted a statement on its website advising the scientists who participate in its working groups “not to feel pressured to discuss their deliberations” outside the confines of IARC.
In short:
IARC declined to comment.
A suspicious person would have looked at the effect the results of that suspicious study would have on the RoundUp's chances to be still used in Europe:
But IARC’s Monograph 112 has had great influence. It is weighing heavily on a pending European Union decision – due by the end of the year and possibly to be made next week - on whether glyphosate should be relicensed for sale across the 28 member states. France, one of the bloc’s agricultural powerhouses, has said it wants the weedkiller phased out and then banned, provoking protests by its vocal farmers, who argue glyphosate is vital to their business. A failure to renew glyphosate’s license by the end of the year would see an EU ban kick in on Jan. 1, 2018.
Although - even in Europe IARC's output is not met with universal adulation:
In Europe, IARC has become embroiled in a public spat with experts at the European Food Safety Authority, which conducted its own review of glyphosate in November 2015 and found it “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”
But, on the general principle that better be safe than sorry, I guess the fate of RoundUp is sealed, at least in European Union. And the suspicious person, one that is aware about huge chemical corporations of France, Germany, Switzerland etc., would have started to ask some questions, wouldn't she/he? Still:
IARC answered none of Reuters’ specific questions about changes to the draft.
The story smells to high heaven. And it is not the smell of glyphosate, no sir/madam.