TJ Beall

You are here

TJ Beall Refutes Alarmist Propaganda Being Spread About Cotton

Glyphosate on Cotton Fibers: Fear-Mongering and Alarmism on a Nanomolar Scale

The beginning of this most recent hysteria was a press release from an anti-gmo/anti-agribusiness group from Argentina, the "Congress of Physicians of Fumigated Villages". There is no study, peer review, methodology, etc released anywhere on these findings. The information was conveyed to the public via press release.
Again, this group of "scientists" put out a press release on their findings before publishing a study or waiting for completion of the peer review process.
Reporting to news agencies before peer review is the same tactic used by other anti-GMO groups, such as Gilles-Eric Seralini in his now infamous GMO rat feeding study, which has since been retracted.
The press release from this “Congress” was then picked up by many eco/earth blogs:
The simple fact is that glyphosate can be found at these levels on anything that grows in soil or is subjected to rainfall in agricultural areas. This is referred to as “background levels” and can be confirmed through testing of rain, water systems, un-farmed soil, and food.
Rainwater contains 2.5 ppb:
Our surface waters contain trace amounts of glyphosate:
The researchers responsible for this press release own former study even shows that un-farmed soil contains 5 ppb of glyphosate:
Furthermore, there is glyphosate in foods that we eat at much higher levels than those found on cotton:
Any glyphosate found on cotton fibers would likely be from residential/commercial usage, rainwater or soil, as there are no field practices during cotton harvest season which utilize glyphosate. RoundupReady cotton plants are applied with glyphosate, but in normal production practices this occurs months before the cotton fibers are even formed by the plant.
The World Health Organization has set the lowest NOAEL (No Observed Adverse Effect Limit) for glyphosate as .15 g/kg for maternal toxicity (, and the "findings" from this group claim that they found 4ppb on tampons. Given that a tampon contains about 5 grams of fiber, a single tampon would contain .000000002 grams of glyphosate. Since the NOAEL refers to oral toxicity, a 60 kg expecting mother would theoretically need to ingest (note: DO NOT EAT TAMPONS) 750 million tampons before any negative effects would be expected.
Furthermore, glyphosate itself is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-teratogenic, and non-mutagenic. It is the safest herbicide ever used by man and has replaced far more dangerous herbicides such as atrazine, gramoxone, and other organophosphate herbicides.
The only credible group to ever classify glyphosate as a “probable” carcinogen is the IARC, an arm of the WHO. This same group has recently classified many other items as “probably” carcinogenic, such as cured meats, night-shift work, and working at a barbershop.
Many groups have since then refuted the IARC’s findings. Some examples:

European Crop Protection Association
{The IARC conclusions published in Lancet Oncology contradict the world’s most robust and stringent regulatory systems – namely the European Union and the United States – in which crop protection products have undergone extensive reviews based on multi-year testing and in which active ingredients such as glyphosate and malathion been found not to present a carcinogenic risk to humans.”“From the summary conclusions it appears that IARC has made its conclusions as a result of an incomplete data review that has omitted key evidence.}

American Cancer Society
{Even if a substance or exposure is known or suspected to cause cancer, this does not necessarily mean that it can or should be avoided at all costs. For example, estrogen is a known carcinogen that occurs naturally in the body. Also, exposure to ionizing radiation is known to cause cancer, with increased risks even at low levels of exposure. Yet there is no way to completely prevent exposure to natural sources of radiation such as cosmic radiation from the sun or radon in soil. These lists also include many commonly used medicines, particularly some hormones and drugs used to treat cancer. For example, tamoxifen increases the risk of certain kinds of uterine cancer but can be very useful in treating some breast cancers, which may be more important for some women.}

US Environmental Protection Agency
{In March 2015, the IARC evaluated the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate. The IARC
determined that there was a positive trend in the incidence of a rare tumor type, renal tubular
carcinoma and renal tubule adenoma or carcinoma (combined) in males in one feeding study in
CD-1 mice. A second study reported a positive trend for hemangiosarcomas in male CD-1 mice.
Thus, in accordance with one of the preamble criteria, “the occurrence of tumors in two studies in
one species,” IARC determined that there is “sufficient evidence” in experimental animals for the
carcinogenicity of glyphosate (IARC, 2015)
In contrast, the USEPA’s carcinogenicity classification is based on weight-of-evidence considerations in accordance with the agency’s 2005 Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment. The cancer guideline emphasizes the importance of weighing all of the evidence in reaching conclusions about the human carcinogenic potential of agents. This evaluation is accomplished in a single integrative step after assessing all of the individual lines of evidence. Evidence considered includes tumor findings, or lack thereof, in humans and laboratory animals; an agent’s chemical and physical properties; its structure-activity relationships (SARs) as compared with other carcinogenic agents; and studies addressing potential carcinogenic processes and mode(s) of action, either in vivo or in vitro. Data from epidemiological studies are generally preferred for characterizing human cancer hazard and risk. However, all of the information discussed above could provide valuable insight into the possible mode(s) of action and likelihood of human cancer hazard and risk (USEPA, 2005)

The IARC attributed the kidney tumors observed in male CD-1 mice at the high dose in the feeding study (MRID No. 00251007) to treatment since they are rare and there was borderline significance in trend test (P=0.034 for carcinoma and P=0.037 for combined adenoma or carcinoma) in a Cochran-Armitage
trend test. However, as shown in Table 14, the agency’s statistical analyses did not show a significant trend for either carcinoma (P=0.06345) or the combined adenoma or carcinoma (P=0.06483). In a Fisher’s exact test, when compared to the concurrent control, there was no pairwise significance for any tumor type (adenoma, carcinoma, or combined). There were no pre-neoplastic renal tubular lesions such as tubular necrosis/ regeneration, hyperplasia or hypertrophy, despite a high dose level (4945 mg/kg/day) that was approximately 5-fold higher than the limit dose (1000 mg/kg/day) recommended by the agency’s guidelines. Examination of multiple sections of kidneys from all animals by more than one pathologist did not result in any additional neoplasms. Although the highest dose tested (4945 mg/kg/day) was approximately 5-fold higher than the limit dose (1000 mg/kg/day) recommended by the agency’s guideline, the incidence of the kidney tumors was minimal (1/50 adenomas and 2/50 carcinomas) compared to controls (1/49 adenomas). An evaluation by the PWG concluded that the renal tumors are not treatment-related since there were no compound related nephrotoxic lesions, including pre-neoplastic changes, multiple tumors were not found in any animals, and there was no evidence of a significant linear trend at the 0.5 level in a one-tailed CochranArmitage test or pairwise significance in a Fisher’s exact test. Furthermore, kidney tumors were not seen when tested at lower (85 to 1000 mg/kg/day) doses or at a comparable (4116 mg/kg/day) dose in this strain of mice in the other three studies. Thus, the totality of data available from 4 carcinogenicity studies provides a strong support for the conclusion that the kidney tumors seen in one study is not the result of a carcinogenic response to glyphosate.}