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Old 12-30-2011, 08:21 PM   #21
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I hadn't read up on this lately. Thanks for prodding me. There is something that can be done - license the better version of Roundup for the U.S.

: Roundup Is Killing Off Amphibians, Ecologist Says
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2005)

"In 1993, the EPA renewed its permit for Roundup. It noted that glyphosate itself is not toxic to aquatic life. The problem was with one of its common surfactants, which is toxic. A surfactant is a soapy additive used so glyphosate can stick to and penetrate plants.
In Australia and Europe, Monsanto sells Roundup Biactive, a version with a different surfactant that doesn't harm amphibians.
"Why don't we have the other surfactant?" Relyea asked. "Either it's less effective at killing weeds or it's more expensive to make."
Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer said the surfactant in Roundup Biactive was less effective on North American weeds and also would be subject to a cumbersome EPA approval process."

Oh yeah, and just for those interested in people as well as frogs, here is an article that knocked my socks off. It's not a link because I got it from a library database - maybe your library has a journal archive online too.

Roundup Revelation By: Bonn, Dorothy. Environmental Health Perspectives, Jun2005, Vol. 113 Issue 6, pA403-A404, 2p;

"... exposure of male farmers to glyphosate-based herbicides was associated with an increase in miscarriage and premature birth in farm families."

Here's the abstract:
"Abstract The article discusses that researchers at France’s Universite de Caen investigated the effects of the full Roundup formulation and glyphosate alone on cultured human placental cells. The herbicide, they found, killed the cells at concentrations far below those used in agricultural practice. Surprisingly, they also found that Roundup was at least twice as toxic as glyphosate alone. Virtually all previous testing of Roundup for long-term health damage has been done on glyphosate rather than on the full herbicide formulation, of which glyphosate makes up only around 40 percent The remainder consists of inactive ingredients including adjuvants, chemicals that are added to improve the performance of the active ingredient. Roundup’s main adjuvant is the surfactant polyethoxylated tallowamine, which helps glyphosate penetrate plant cells.; "
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Old 12-30-2011, 09:48 PM   #22
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toofrugalformycat, please help me out in decoding this, I'm not sure if I can access that at my library or not (I'll check later):

Quote:
Originally Posted by toofrugalformycat View Post
"... exposure of male farmers to glyphosate-based herbicides was associated with an increase in miscarriage and premature birth in farm families."
Now how does that relate to the following that you quoted (underline mine):


Quote:
"The article discusses that researchers at France’s Universite de Caen investigated the effects of the full Roundup formulation and glyphosate alone on cultured human placental cells. The herbicide, they found, killed the cells at concentrations far below those used in agricultural practice.
Are they saying that they applied diluted RoundUp (how far below is 'far'?) that farmers would spray on their fields directly to 'cultured human placental cells'? If so, how does that relate to any real world effects of agricultural spraying? Are farmers spraying RoundUp directly into the wombs of pregnant women? If so, they should stop it! I imagine if I applied Jack Daniels to 'cultured human placental cells', there would be problems. Does that mean that a father drinking an occasional JD would harm their unborn children?

Or...

Did they actually do a study on male farmers and miscarriage in their families (controlled against farmers not using RoundUp or using alternative herbicides/procedures)?

Or...

is that Petri dish experiment the 'association' they speak of?

This sounds a lot like your earlier study - no real wetlands looked at, but 250 gallon cattle tanks filled with simulated wetlands, and then sprayed like a corn field. Maybe it tells us something, but does it really tell us what happens in the real world?


Quote:
Surprisingly, they also found that Roundup was at least twice as toxic as glyphosate alone.
Why would this be 'surprising'? They added surfactants to create a more efficient delivery system. Of course it could be more toxic with the surfactant. If they didn't add a surfactant, farmers would have to use a lot more glyphosate to get the job done, and that might cause even more problems. And I get the sense that the greenies would then accuse Monsanto of eliminating the surfactant as a ploy to sell more glyphosate.


Quote:
Virtually all previous testing of Roundup for long-term health damage has been done on glyphosate rather than on the full herbicide formulation, of which glyphosate makes up only around 40 percent The remainder consists of inactive ingredients including adjuvants, chemicals that are added to improve the performance of the active ingredient. Roundup’s main adjuvant is the surfactant polyethoxylated tallowamine, which helps glyphosate penetrate plant cells.; "
I can't help but think that if this was turned around, the greenies would be complaining that 'virtually all previous testing of glyphosate for long-term health damage has been done on a form diluted with surfactants rather than on the full strength formulation of glyphosate.'

So, IF the above study on farmer's families is actually a controlled study, I'd be interested. I'd also be interested in what effects the alternative methods have. In the real world, we don't want to eliminate something that creates 0.0X% problems, if the alternative creates more problems.

Don't get me wrong, we should be investigating and questioning and understanding the effects of these things we spray on our crops. But, if it isn't put into context, and compared to other practices, and looked at big-picture-wise, it can lead to bad decisions (like banning DDT which led to needless suffering in malaria stricken areas).

Another bit of perspective. Farming is a dangerous occupation. When a group of old farmers got together, I would notice fingers missing, arms missing. It was common, even among a small group. My own father lost a couple fingers to a farming accident, my uncle almost died from a hayhook that went through his ankle. A friend of mine lost an eye to a hay mower that kicked up a stone. Tractors tipping over kill farmers. I had a tractor come close to tipping over on me, I was lucky. I'll wager that tractor tip-overs have caused more deaths/injuries than pesticide exposure. But the greenies would rather see another pass over a field with a tractor, than to have a 'chemical' sprayed on a field, if some petri-dish study showed that the 'chemical' has some effect on some living thing under some conditions. Gimme a break.

-ERD50
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Old 12-31-2011, 01:08 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
t
Another bit of perspective. Farming is a dangerous occupation. When a group of old farmers got together, I would notice fingers missing, arms missing. It was common, even among a small group. My own father lost a couple fingers to a farming accident, my uncle almost died from a hayhook that went through his ankle. A friend of mine lost an eye to a hay mower that kicked up a stone. Tractors tipping over kill farmers. I had a tractor come close to tipping over on me, I was lucky. I'll wager that tractor tip-overs have caused more deaths/injuries than pesticide exposure. But the greenies would rather see another pass over a field with a tractor, than to have a 'chemical' sprayed on a field, if some petri-dish study showed that the 'chemical' has some effect on some living thing under some conditions. Gimme a break.

-ERD50
Interesting discussion (as I aside I would have never guess that ERD was raised a farm). I do think it is always really important to look at the big picture when doing risk assessment. As ERD say farming is a very dangerous occupation #4 in the US with 42 farmers dying on the job per 100,000 farmers, twice the rate of cops.

I'd also point while I haven't seen any hard data, most of the recent E coli outbreaks have been from organic farms in Europe in June, or pesticide free farms in the case of the Colorado cantaloupes.

I'll take my chances with cancer rather die of an E. Coli infection from untreated agricultural products.
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Old 12-31-2011, 01:36 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
toofrugalformycat, please help me out in decoding this, I'm not sure if I can access that at my library or not (I'll check later):
...
Did they actually do a study on male farmers and miscarriage in their families (controlled against farmers not using RoundUp or using alternative herbicides/procedures)?
This sounds a lot like your earlier study - no real wetlands looked at, but 250 gallon cattle tanks filled with simulated wetlands, and then sprayed like a corn field. Maybe it tells us something, but does it really tell us what happens in the real world?

Why would this be 'surprising'? They added surfactants to create a more efficient delivery system. Of course it could be more toxic with the surfactant. If they didn't add a surfactant, farmers would have to use a lot more glyphosate to get the job done, and that might cause even more problems. And I get the sense that the greenies would then accuse Monsanto of eliminating the surfactant as a ploy to sell more glyphosate.

I can't help but think that if this was turned around, the greenies would be complaining that 'virtually all previous testing of glyphosate for long-term health damage has been done on a form diluted with surfactants rather than on the full strength formulation of glyphosate.'

Another bit of perspective. Farming is a dangerous occupation. When a group of old farmers got together, I would notice fingers missing, arms missing. It was common, even among a small group. My own father lost a couple fingers to a farming accident, my uncle almost died from a hayhook that went through his ankle. A friend of mine lost an eye to a hay mower that kicked up a stone. Tractors tipping over kill farmers. I had a tractor come close to tipping over on me, I was lucky. I'll wager that tractor tip-overs have caused more deaths/injuries than pesticide exposure. But the greenies would rather see another pass over a field with a tractor, than to have a 'chemical' sprayed on a field, if some petri-dish study showed that the 'chemical' has some effect on some living thing under some conditions. Gimme a break.

-ERD50
ERD50, I'm just doing a quickie search on the Internet this evening, because I remembered reading in the past of the global die-off of amphibians, and some (probably not the majority) of their deaths caused by man-made pollutants including herbicides, and also because the AKRR has tried in the past to use Roundup and other herbicides.

I'll try to answer your questions, but really, I'm not going to produce an authoritative verdict in one evening, even if I had the credentials to do so, which I do not.

I just find it fascinating that it's apparently not the glyphosate in Roundup that is the worst problem, it's the surfactant, and we use a more toxic surfactant than other countries do. That was news to me. Don't you find that interesting and peculiar and disturbing? We could have our Roundup without the toxicity to critters, if we lived somewhere else?

That particular issue,
Environmental Health Perspectives, Jun2005, Vol. 113 Issue 6,
has several articles and letters regarding Roundup, including letters arguing back an forth about its toxicity. I'm sure there have been many studies before and since then.

The human reproductive study mentioned in the article is from the paper
Savitz D A, Arbuckle T, ... 1997. Male pesticide exposure and pregnancy outcome. Am J Epidemiol 146:1025-1036.

I don't have my hands on that paper.

I don't know why you are completely skeptical of any and all knowledge gained in laboratory work, but believe me, that's not MY problem.

I'm glad you can get together with groups of old farmers. I'm sorry you've lost friends farm accidents, that's horrible. I haven't lost any that way. Many of my farmer friends and relatives died young, of cancer. But apparently probably not cancer caused by Roundup, because it seems to be more of an endocrine disruptor rather than a carcinogen, from my limited reading tonight. Of the others, most lived, or are still living, into their 80's and 90's, bless'm.

But because you've created an imaginary group called "the greenies" of everyone who disagrees with you, and "the greenies" are out to harm farmers, I somehow don't think you're really interested in entertaining any new ideas, so I'm finished with this thread.

And I'm writing my Congressman about Roundup and adjuvants.
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Old 12-31-2011, 11:03 AM   #25
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I'll try to answer your questions, but really, I'm not going to produce an authoritative verdict in one evening, even if I had the credentials to do so, which I do not.
And of course, I'm in the same position. I'm actually not that interested in debating these fine points of one study versus the other. Even if we both had the proper credentials and time and motivation, we might disagree on what they mean.

My larger point is, one should not look at these issues in such isolation. The effect of the alternatives and the 'big-picture' must be considered, including 'unintended consequences'. Doesn't an extra watering and tilling of an 'organic' field kill some frogs/critters (yes)? What about the diesel fumes from those tractors and irrigation pumps? I could quote studies about diesel fumes, right? The proper question is not, 'is it possible that xyz might do some harm?', the proper question is, 'if there is significant harm, can we find a less harmful method for the stuff we need to do?' and 'does the good outweigh the harm?'

It is this perspective that I find lacking in your posts.


Quote:
I just find it fascinating that it's apparently not the glyphosate in Roundup that is the worst problem, it's the surfactant, and we use a more toxic surfactant than other countries do. That was news to me. Don't you find that interesting and peculiar and disturbing? We could have our Roundup without the toxicity to critters, if we lived somewhere else?
Well, I'd need to read those studies in more detail, and probably know the history better to comment on that. But in general, sure, if we find better/safer stuff, we ought to use it. It appears to me that RoundUp is better/safer than what was used in the past. Not perfect, but better.

Also (sorry, can't find the link at the moment), I read that one of the reasons we don't have that alleged safer surfactant is that it was developed later on, and it is simply too burdensome to go through EPA approval again for a new formulation - so there's another example of 'unintended consequences'. The EPA bureaucracy intended to keep us safe, may actually be keeping safer alternatives from us. If the real-world difference really is so great, the EPA should be proactive on the matter. Personally, I'd rather see the effort go towards farm safety standards - I think we'd see more tangible benefit from that, if done properly.

Quote:
I don't know why you are completely skeptical of any and all knowledge gained in laboratory work, but believe me, that's not MY problem.
I'm skeptical of everything - I think we need to be. But as I said earlier, that's not really my issue, my issue is looking at the 'big-picture'.

Quote:
I'm glad you can get together with groups of old farmers. I'm sorry you've lost friends farm accidents, that's horrible. I haven't lost any that way. Many of my farmer friends and relatives died young, of cancer. But apparently probably not cancer caused by Roundup, because it seems to be more of an endocrine disruptor rather than a carcinogen, from my limited reading tonight. Of the others, most lived, or are still living, into their 80's and 90's, bless'm.
I was not intending my stories to form any sort of anecdotal evidence, but merely to highlight the fact that farming is demonstrably dangerous (see clifp's #'s, I assume from the BLS), and provide a little 'color' to a discussion filled with references to dry reports. We don't need to go to a laboratory and create a scenario to see that farming is dangerous and draw implications from that. We have hard, cold numbers and facts. We have hard, cold limbs and bodies. We need to consider those dangers compared to these somewhat theoretical and largely implied risks from some of these pesticides.

OK, one more dry fact/figure (from wiki, bold/UL mine):

Quote:
For example, if hospitalization were used as a measure of the severity of pesticide related incidents, then glyphosate would be considered relatively safe, since, over a 13-year period in California, none of the 515 pesticide-related hospitalizations recorded were attributed to glyphosate.[45]
So in relative terms (all that really matters), that sounds pretty good to me.

Quote:
But because you've created an imaginary group called "the greenies" of everyone who disagrees with you, and "the greenies" are out to harm farmers, I somehow don't think you're really interested in entertaining any new ideas, so I'm finished with this thread.
I actually did hesitate to use that term, fearing it would be taken as inflammatory - but really, how many words should I have added to an already overly-long post to try to convey what I meant by that term? I think it was pretty clear - I use 'greenies' to describe good intentioned people, who are more interested in the perception of environmentalism and feel-good actions than they are in actual results. I'm open to suggestions for a better term, if you'll consider a different term for 'greedy capitalists' and the like - deal? And I didn't imply any of the things you attribute to the term.

I don't think 'greenies' are 'out to harm farmers', but if their actions harm them, it's a distinction w/o a difference. I'm not disagreeing with 'greenies', it is the 'greenies' that are often in disagreement with reality, you can keep me out of it. I can't fathom how you could characterize me as 'not really interested in entertaining any new ideas', I absolutely love to entertain new ideas, it's a geeky hobby of mine. To use your words, I suspect that it is you who describes everyone who disagrees with you as 'not really interested in entertaining any new ideas'.

Quote:
And I'm writing my Congressman about Roundup and adjuvants.
As is your prerogative. I hope your Congressman is or has biologists on staff. And statisticians. And will look at the pros/cons of alternatives.

Quote:
so I'm finished with this thread.
I hope you learned something! I did!

-ERD50
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:31 PM   #26
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Thanks for great suggestions on the "heritage", "heirloom", and "open pollinated" varieties. My dream farming land in my retirement will not be large, maybe around 1-2 acres, just for self sufficiency goal only. So the traditional non-GM seeds should be doing OK.

Farming is indeed a hard work, and carries its inherent inevitable losses due to a lot of unpredictable factors such as weather, insects, diseases, etc. So the best strategy is to plant more to compensate a certain amount of loss. This is what I learned from my vegetable gardening so far, from mosaic virus to early/late blight, from groundhog tunneling garden bed to blue jays pecking on tomatoes. But it keeps my physical fit and busy, and also provides a valuable learning experience from my own mistakes and mother nature. Still it will be a quite while before my dream can come true, but I believe I can make it. Patience is gold.

Happy new year to everyone. Have a peaceful, healthy and prosperous new year of 2012!
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