With scrutiny of Monsanto's flagship herbicide RoundUp increasing, the corporation's defense of the product is in high gear. And right now, a recent Reuters article is doing the work on behalf of the biotech giant to discredit a scientist who contributed to the 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding that glyphosate — RoundUp's active ingredient — is a "probable carcinogen."
Lately scientific evidence seems to matter a lot less than it used to. It's not that evidence hasn't been ignored by policymakers in the past. But there are some unique things happening under the new administration that seem to directly and fundamentally challenge the value of science. Across the country, scientists are responding by standing up and speaking out.
Monsanto's herbicide glyphosate is once again in the spotlight. Cancer experts will be reviewing the science on glyphosate for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) next week. This week, PAN International released a review of the current science on the herbicide's health and environmental effects.
A new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that when pregnant mothers live within one kilometer of fields where certain pesticides are used, their children are more likely to have lower IQs.
EPA recently released its assessement of the ecological risks posed by the widely used herbicide atrazine. Agency scientists found that current exposures greatly exceed its "levels of concern" for chronic risk for birds, mammals and fish — by 22, 198, and 62 times, respectively. When it comes to wildlife harms, these new findings on atrazine are pretty damning.
A new report by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reminds us that we have a lot to learn about the risks of exposure to multiple pesticides at a time. Hmmmm. "Exposure to multiple pesticides at a time" — isn't that what we face in the real world? Yes, it is. Read on.
What, you may ask, is the "spring flush?" In late spring and early summer, large concentrations of herbicides are flushed from croplands. These chemicals — like the herbicide atrazine — then get transported far and wide through surface water systems.
Herbicides are water-soluble and thus have the potential to leach into groundwater supplies as well as streams, lakes and other surface waters. Atrazine is a frequently found contaminant in drinking water supplies throughout the Corn Belt, and every year the spring flush raises concerns over the potential of atrazine spikes in drinking water supplies.
Guess what? Two more studies have confirmed that neonicotinoid insecticides (aka "neonics") are bad for bees. One study documented neonics' impacts on wild bees, which hasn't been looked at much to date. The second found that bees show a preference for neonic-laced food.
A third report from the European Academies Science Advisory Council underscores the importance of the ecosystem service provided by pollinators. The scientific case for taking action to protect bees and other pollinators from neonics just keeps getting stronger.
Last fall PAN partnered with Justin Matlow, a concerned parent and teacher in the heart of California's strawberry-growing country, to monitor for pesticide drift. Today — to mark Cesar Chavez day — we joined Justin, farmworker advocates and other community partners to release our findings.
I'm not trained as a public health scientist, but I've learned how to decipher epidemiology studies since I started working at PAN — and a good thing, too, because this stuff is interesting.