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Full Version: The Conversation publishes terrible glyphosate article + Copper sulfate + Fauci
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Fauci’s truths and half-truths about gain-of-function research

'Debate rages over glyphosate'? The Conversation publishes terrible Roundup article

INTRO: Usually an excellent source for science-based commentary, The Conversation recently published, to put it charitably, a questionable article about the dangers of the weedkiller glyphosate. What did the authors get wrong? Almost everything.

The Conversation bills itself as a website designed to “Unlock the knowledge of researchers and academics to provide the public with clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.” Their science commentary is generally very good, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone—at least I wouldn't have hesitated until I read this article: While debate rages over glyphosate-based herbicides, farmers are spraying them all over the world.

As the title suggests, the authors depicted glyphosate as a potentially deadly weedkiller, wantonly overused by farmers with little oversight from environmental regulators. “Farmers use [glyphosate] on a majority of the world’s agricultural fields,” they wrote. “Humans spray enough glyphosate to coat every acre of farmland in the world with half a pound of it every year.” This is alarming, they continued, because “scientists are still debating its health effects.”

To say that this was a misleading assessment of the science on glyphosate safety would be far too generous. Even after the editors issued a correction and removed a claim about glyphosate detection in breast milk, the story was still unfit for a site as reputable as The Conversation. Let's take a look at some of the authors' key claims... (MORE)

Organic pesticide copper sulfate—unlike glyphosate—is a carcinogen, kills beneficial insects, decimates soil, pollutes water. It also works. Here are political and science reasons why regulators give it a free pass.

EXCERPTS: Glyphosate has attracted the attention of anti-GMO activists and members of the EU because it works hand-in-hand with some genetically modified crops bred to resist it. Critics of synthetic pesticides are unimpressed by the scientific consensus on the safety of glyphosate.

They actively pursue bans, claiming that conventional agricultural chemicals causes serious ecological collateral damage to soil and insects. It’s time to draw the line on the use of conventional agricultural chemicals, they say.

But science is not so simple and life is filled with irony. Let’s consider the safety and environmental profile of copper sulfate and other copper compounds, the most popular class of pesticides used in Europe. As they are a natural compound, they are classified as ‘organic’ even though they organic compounds are technically inorganic (ironically, technically, glyphosate is organic.)

They are widely used by organic farmers an algaecide, bactericide, fungicide, and root killer. When it is mixed with calcium hydroxide it is known as a Bordeaux mixture. Their use grew in popularity in the 1800s to deter people from sampling French wine grapes.

[...] Most countries in Europe use about 1.5 to 2 times the amount of pesticides per acre than the US mostly because of the use of copper compounds, primarily on vineyards, as they control mildew. They are also used in other aspects of organic farming, especially with potatoes, grapes, tomatoes and apples.

But let’s be clear here: just because organic compounds are organic, does not mean they are safer. In fact, organic copper products are one of the most toxic chemicals used anywhere in farming... (MORE - details)