glyphosate – ‘a gift from god’


This is a very important principle.

Properly used, in the dosages recommended, there are no reputable scientific studies that point to a cancer link with glyphosate. Not yet anyway! The single study (in over 40 years of studies) that suggests a link between the two has been accused of cherry-picking some data and avoiding contrary data. That’s why there is peer review of science, not courts of law to decide such things. The recent award of almost $290 million is a travesty, sorry as the case of the individal is.

Let’s be clear about this, I don’t condone the use of Roundup where expensive wines are produced, it is not just lazy, it is indecently money-grabbing when there are so many alternative manual approaches. But this particular molecule has benefited millions, if not billions of people and animals when it comes to the production of basic foodstuffs. Monsanto are an easy target, indeed they are a deserved target for some of their approaches, practices, and some other of their products, but a CEO of that company once described Glyphosate as ‘a gift from god,’ and, so-far, there is no credible evidence to the contrary…

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 3 responses to “glyphosate – ‘a gift from god’”

    • billn15th August 2018 at 11:50 amPermalinkReply

      There is a class of litigator that flies by private jet, always trying to bring together a class action for x or for y (these days even because they don’t like the new keyboards on macs!) – it is this group that in most cases I hold primarily responsible – it is its own industry and is only about the dollars. This is the same group of litigators that, via the courts, bankrupted Dow-Corning in the 1990s over breast implants, despite no study ever linking their products to the claimants’ ailments…

      Last year I met one of the guys who was responsible for forging the compensation agreement over thalidomide – the fees easily covered him commuting on Concorde between London and New York during the process! At least in that case there was test data and clean science to prove the link…

  1. Jan15th August 2018 at 8:26 amPermalinkReply

    I think that the debate on glyphosate is a bit more complicated than the question whether or not it can be linked to cancer in humans. Even if it does not cause cancer, it does damage to the biological life in the area where it is used (bacteria, worms, other plants, fish,…) and glyphosate is always used in a mix with other chemicals for which the risks are not always wel known.
    Products like Roundup have been long time sold as being “totally harmless” and that is untrue. Calling it “a gift of god” is even absurd.

    I agree that the use of the product in the vineyards is more laziness and bad practice then anything else. In some regions in Europe (France!) it is used rather extensively, in many other regions (often also producing very cheap wines) it is hardly ever used, showing there is absolutely no reason to use the product in vineyards.

    • billn15th August 2018 at 8:57 amPermalinkReply


      I write about wine, so am not prepared to get into a more holistic discussion on this – as you say, it is indeed more complicated – but some things, the points I raised, are, however, not complicated:

      • Even if it does not cause cancer” – my main point. $290 million, it is not just absurd, it is wrong for a court to do this.
      • It does damage to the biological life in the area where it is used” – possibly/probably – but so does copper sulfate, and without that there would be virtually no vineyards. However, digressing from wine for a moment, it is incontravertable that the significantly higher yields of foodstuffs (animal and human) that this molecule has enabled over 40+ years means that many more people are alive today than could otherwise have been sustained. Feel free to debate with them about harm to “bacteria, worms…” – now I will stick to wine…

      Keeping to wine, I will comment only on the area that I write about. You already know that I have a strong distaste for chemical management of vineyards for wines with high sticker prices. But particularly in parts of the Beaujolais they are struggling to find other management regimes where steep, sandy soils provide insufficient traction for either horse or tractor. The horse at €60/hour is anyway a cost they cannot absorb for the low market price of their wine, likewise they cannot afford the extra person-power to do this manually. I know a number of committed biodynamic producers who still work two systems – chemical where (financially) they have no other options, and the rest of their exploitation where they plough and use BD preparations by the lunar calendar.

      As you said, it is more complicated…

  2. Jan15th August 2018 at 7:42 pmPermalinkReply

    The relationship between the use of herbicides and higher yields is subject to scientific debate. As an example:
    The more or less generalized use of herbicides over the last decades did coïncide indeed with the general increase of crop yields, but it did also coïncide with many other factors like mechanization, better insight in biology, new plant variants etcetera that have had enormous impact on agricultural practices. The companies whose enormous profits depend on the sale of these chemicals, obviously spend fortunes to convince the world (and the world of science…) that their chemicals are “a gift from god”.

    As you surely know the viticulture in France is by far the largest user of chemicals, while it is only a small percentage of total crops. Chemical companies managed to convince most winegrowers that these chemicals are a (harmless) necessity. Nevertheless wine growers all over the world (including France) are showing that it is perfectly possible to make wines (from healthy vineyards with good yields) without using any of these products. That makes me very sceptic about the industry and its arguments…
    I’ve personally decided a while ago that I will try to buy “as much as possible” only wines from producers that are not using chemicals anymore (well, admittedly that is without excluding those using copper sulfate), as there are now so many excellent wines for sale that are not made with chemical farming, that I have no reason to go for other wines – it even helps me in making choices: these days there is too many good wines anyhow :).

    • billn16th August 2018 at 10:58 amPermalinkReply

      This is obviously a subject that you take very seriously, but I’ll try to keep to wine:
      As you surely know…” – indeed – but, given my job and this site, I will also restrict myself to (greater) Burgundy. Here, given the higher than average pricing, they have a much higher number (vs the average) of organic and biodynamic viticulture practitioners – lutte raisonnée, whilst it sounds nice, can also allow anything. Also, at least according to this book – (old numbers) ‘in 2009 only 2.5% of French agricultural land was certified organic, but the number of practitioners continues to grow each year. Of the 16,446 certified practitioners, a significant number were vignerons.

      • Jan23rd August 2018 at 4:29 pmPermalinkReply

        It’s about my personal health and the health of the world that we live in, so yes I take this rather seriously. And i have little trust in the companies that make fortunes out of such product, less even if they call it a “gift of god”. It was kind of surprising/disappointing you seemed to support such “claim”. At best these are “gifts of the devil”: useful in some cases but it may cost a true farmer (part of) his soul…

        Going back to viticulture there is no contradiction between the large number of organic practitioners in viticulture and the disproportionate use of chemicals in viticulture: more and more quality (and health) conscious vignerons are realizing that they cannot continue like in the past.
        Looking at Burgundy there has been enormous progress made indeed. It is sufficient to walk thru the vineyards to see the vast progress made in the past 20 years. Up to the point where almost every quality winemaker in Burgundy seems to have chosen the organic track, up to the point of certification or not.
        I agree that prices make it seemingly easier than for products were prices/margins are lower. However part of that seems also based on false beliefs – vines are some of the most vulnerable crops when it comes to diseases. And still many vignerons prove they can have good crop sizes without recurring to the traditional chemicals (indeed, in this statement I forget about coppersulfate..).

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