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Open Conspiracies, Exhibit B: Glyphosate

Summary:
In “Open Conspiracies, Exhibit A: Whitewashing Sugar” I argue that people should worry much more about open conspiracies than “secret conspiracies.” An “open conspiracy” is one for which anyone who is exceptionally diligent can learn all about from public available information, but for which there are big efforts to keep people from knowing about it easily. There are many reasons to worry about highly processed food. For examples, see:One more reason to worry about highly processed food is its heavy reliance on grains that are routinely doused with large amounts of pesticides. For example, quoting from “Corporations can legally put carcinogens in

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Open Conspiracies, Exhibit B: Glyphosate

In “Open Conspiracies, Exhibit A: Whitewashing Sugar” I argue that people should worry much more about open conspiracies than “secret conspiracies.” An “open conspiracy” is one for which anyone who is exceptionally diligent can learn all about from public available information, but for which there are big efforts to keep people from knowing about it easily.

There are many reasons to worry about highly processed food. For examples, see:

One more reason to worry about highly processed food is its heavy reliance on grains that are routinely doused with large amounts of pesticides. For example, quoting from “Corporations can legally put carcinogens in our food without warning labels. Here's why” by Matthew Rosza (with bullets added to separate passages):

  • A recent study by the Environmental Working Group revealed something horrifying: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup, was present in 17 of the 21 oat-based cereal and snack products at levels considered unsafe for children. That includes six different brands of Cheerios, one of the most popular American cereals.

  • The safe glyphosate limit for children is 160 parts per billion (ppb), yet Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch has 833 parts per billion and regular Cheerios has 729 ppb. While the potential risks of glyphosate are fiercely debated, many scientists believe that it is linked to cancer.

  • So if there are unsafe levels of glyphosate in a cereal popular with children, why isn't this disclosed on the cereal boxes?

  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment categorized it as a “chemical known to the state to cause cancer.”

  • Glyphosate is primarily used on Roundup Ready corn and soybeans that are genetically modified to withstand the toxin. Glyphosate is also sprayed on other non-GMO crops, like wheat, oats, barley and beans, right before harvest.

  • Monsanto has waged a sophisticated PR campaign to bully scientists and undermine findings that glyphosate is cancerous. In addition Monsanto and agribusiness leaders protecting the company's interests have a revolving door relationship with many agencies that are supposed to be overseeing and regulating the corporation. Monsanto and agribusiness associations have also made significant political contributions to Congressmembers like former Rep Lamar Smith from Texas who chaired the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee …

Matt Rosza also provides a link to the article shown below backing up his claim that Monsanto has worked hard to keep people from realizing the dangers of glyphosate.

Open Conspiracies, Exhibit B: Glyphosate

Let me quote just one paragraph from Carey Gillam’s “How Monsanto Manufactured ‘Outrage’ at IARC over Cancer Classification”:

Internal company records show not just the level of fear Monsanto had over the impending review, but notably that company officials fully expected IARC scientists would find at least some cancer connections to glyphosate. Company scientists discussed the “vulnerability” that surrounded their efforts to defend glyphosate amid multiple unfavorable research findings in studies of people and animals exposed to the weed killer. In addition to epidemiology studies, “we also have potential vulnerabilities in the other areas that IARC will consider, namely, exposure, genetox and mode of action…” a Monsanto scientist wrote in October 2014. That same email discussed a need to find allies and arrange funding for a “fight”—all months before the IARC meeting in March 2015.

One simple way to avoid most highly processed food and avoid many of these problems is to go off sugar. That entails avoiding most highly processed food, because most of it has quite a bit of sugar. Most foods that are required to have a nutritional label will reveal on that label that sugar is a key ingredient.

There are many other open conspiracies, just in the diet and health area. I write about two other candidates for an open conspiracy in these posts:

When there is a legitimate scientific dispute about dangers like these, the right answer is to devote resources into getting more definitive evidence. But those who are worried their product is dangerous often both (a) say the scientific evidence is inconclusive and (b) do everything in their power (usually behind the scenes) to prevent more conclusive scientific evidence from being put together.

Unfortunately, when a company has an incentive to fuzz up the truth, it often does. And despite growing disclosure requirements, it is still not always obvious when someone with a motivation to fuzz up the truth is behind a particular line of argument.

I am by nature a trusting person, but being a blogger means I come across a lot of information that backs up the idea that many people lie or deceive in public. There is a lot of goodness in humanity, but you can’t depend on everyone to always forward the truth. It can be quite frustrating to try to separate truth from falsehood. I do the best I can within the constraints of the amount of time I spend on each post.

For organized links to other posts on diet and health, see:

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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