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Republicans' Threat to Defund WHO for Monsanto's Roundup's Carcinogenicity Findings Makes USA Look Increasingly Ignorant

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Video straight from the hearing described in this article: judge for yourself what is really going on in this matter!

Republican lawmakers are threatening to cut off U.S. funding for the World Health Organization's cancer research program over its finding that the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, glyphosate, is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Roundup, the world's most widely used weed killer, is routinely sprayed on corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops since the 1970s, and also on lawns and golf courses. To strengthen their marketing, Monsanto sells seeds genetically modified to produce crops that can tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate as the surrounding weeds die.

The Washington Post recently reported that Republicans have mounted a new threat to de-fund the WHO Cancer Research program because it has maintained the Monsanto's herbicide Roundup probably caused several kinds of cancer.

Chairman of the House Science Committee Lamar Smith stated on February 6 that the 2015 conclusion by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France was flawed because it depended on pre-selected scientific evidence. This Texas Congressman stated that he has serious questions about "anti-industry bias and a lack of transparency within the program. There are real repercussions to IARC's unsubstantiated claims, which are not backed by reliable data," Smith said at a hearing.

Then Smith parroted verbatim some of the earlier press releases and pronouncements made by Monsanto's PR firms and by their corporate attorneys as they announced their suits against the state of California a few months ago:

"Labeling requirements will drive costs up for farmers and consumers and create unjustified public fear."
(It is quite obvious to me Monsanto lobbyists had coached him and his Committee staff on what to say in his extensive prepared statement, just as corporate lobbyists always instruct and coach legislators even at the state level on what to say. I can't tell you how many times I heard New Mexico legislators say "Show me some peer-reviewed scientific research" when we were advancing a bill to ban aspartame in New Mexico. They had obviously been massively coached by Ajinomoto lobbyists.)

To bolster his criticism, Smith's committee took testimony from U.S. government experts and a former pesticide industry scientist who said IARC relied on outdated methods and misinterpreted data.

The House Science Committee's vice chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), blasted the IARC's work "shoddy," stating that it would be "unacceptable from any scientific body, let alone one funded by the American taxpayer."

"I'm also a little surprised to see that the United States has given $45 million dollars to IARC located in Lyons, France--a beautiful place from all of the paintings I've seen of that area, but I'm not sure why we're spending American dollars there," said Rep. Roger Marshall (R., Kansas).

He said he had a long-standing joke with his pastor about whether coffee causes cancer, and then proceeded to say he only recently discovered that IARC had given coffee the "probably carcinogenic" designation, which is causing yet another labeling controversy in California. (Well, guess what, Congressman Marshall: Pooh pooh it all you want, though you should realize one central fact, beyond the normal bad effects of coffee on the human liver, and that is that almost all commercial coffee beans coming out of Central America and Africa are sprayed with Mercurial Fungicides before they are put on ships to come to Europe and North America, so it shouldn't surprise you or seems suspect that principled far-seeing scientists at WHO or even at the University of Kansas might point out the carcinogenicity of coffee!)

Democrats on the committee dutifully hammered back at the portrayal of IARC, attempting to turn the tables on Monsanto.

"It is important that we review the methods and tactics that industry has used to influence this administration and attack independent scientific organizations like the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer," said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.). "We must make sure any chemical review is not undone by undue industry influence or misleading scientific studies." (Bonamici posited that the differences between IARC's findings and those of agencies such as the EPA could be simply explained by the fact that the IARC examines whether a chemical could cause cancer under particular circumstances, while the EPA seeks to estimate the cancer risks.

Dr. Jennifer Sass, a Natural Resources Defense Council scientist, defended the IARC's results at the congressional hearing, saying the well-respected international group was the targeted by campaign by the pesticide industry to discredit its findings.

"This hearing is about the ability of a public health agency to call a carcinogen a carcinogen, even if it makes a huge amount of money for a powerful corporation. Are we willing to sell out the public's right to know about harmful chemicals in the places we work live, and play, just so that Monsanto Co. can sell more glyphosate?"

The fact that Jennifer Sass has a Ph.D. from the University of Saskatchewan somehow eluded the Washington Post's journalist on this story. Further, perhaps a Canadian Ph.D. would impugn her also in Lamar Smith's Committee, since that too is outside of the United States, and Monsanto lawyers would therefore discredit her testimony as "unconstitutional."

From the NRDC website:

Jennifer Sass brings to her job a highly specialized expertise in U.S. chemicals policy. Much of her work is focused on understanding and explaining the science behind toxic chemical regulation and on advocating for regulations that are consistent with science, health policy, and environmental law. She frequently provides testimony and scientific briefings for members of Congress and federal advisory committees and is a lecturer at George Washington University's department of environmental and occupational health. She has a master's degree and a PhD in anatomy and cell biology from the University of Saskatchewan and has done postdoctoral work in toxicology at the University of Maryland.

Sass pointed out to the committee in her testimony that:

"What I've touched upon here is only a small part of the well documented public relations campaign to soften up public opinion about the agrichemical industry and create a venue to pressure agencies to block regulations, and try to discredit and silence public health and scientific institutes that may show some harm from their profitable products."
"IARC Director Christopher Wild stated that his Agency has experienced unprecedented, coordinated efforts to undermine the [glyphosate] evaluation, the program and the organization," and that those efforts were designed by Monsanto to "defend itself against litigation claims by thousands of farmers that were once Monsanto Co. customers and are now cancer patients; and, prevent labeling of glyphosate-containing products as a carcinogen in the State of California."

The Trump EPA adds another lawyer of regulatory complexity to this matter of medicine, biochemistry, and oncology, with their December 2017 conclusion that in glyphosate, is "not likely to cause cancer at typical levels of exposure."

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