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US & UK: rising use of GM herbicides, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s, dementia, autism etc

Is it a coincidence, that – as the use of glyphosate rises – so does the incidence of Parkinson’s disease, senile dementia, childhood autism, prostate cancer and many other conditions?

Glyphosate was first marketed in 1976 and its use has greatly increased since 1995, when it was first used with genetically engineered crops. GE crops absorb glyphosate through direct application, and from the soil. It cannot be washed off, is found in rivers, streams, air, rain and food (according to the US National Center for Biotechnology Information).

Note that most recording and research comes from American sources

glyph soy parkinsons graph

Graphs of death rates for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and senile dementia have been plotted against glyphosate applications to U.S. corn and soy crops. Dr Swanson notes that the correlations are quite strong. American deaths due to Alzheimer’s have been rising since 1980, but there was a sharp spike in 1999.

glyph soy senile demetia graphDr Swanson points out that correlation does not necessarily imply causation and there are now a host of other chemicals in our food and our environment.

glyph soy autism graphAutism data: U.S. Department of Education, Crop data: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Britain: an increasing number of cancers and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone Disease and MS – and glyphosate in rivers and drinking water

In a new review paper written by Dr. Rosemary Mason (MB, ChB, FRCA) – medical doctor and naturalist – and submitted to the Scottish Parliament, glyphosate is shown to destroy both human health and biodiversity. She has compiled information from a global network of independent scientists, toxicologists, beekeepers, Industry, environmentalists, governments and regulators, noting that:

“UK has an increasing number of cancers and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone Disease and MS. We have just had our drinking water analysed in Germany and we have glyphosate in it and in our rivers! Wales, like Scotland has epidemics of type 2 diabetes, obesity and autism”.

This water testing was a private initiative – in Scotland the water is not tested – see a FOI response to Graham White.

Dr Mason says: “We asked the Environment Agency why the most used herbicide and the most used insecticide isn’t being measured in groundwater and they said it wasn’t necessary”.

Though the presence of glyphosate in other British waters is also not tested for/recorded, Monsanto has commissioned a report on removal methods by Swindon-based Water Research Centre: WRc Ref: UC7374/14690-0 July 2007: WRC General Report – Roundup.

Her paper can be downloaded here: Glyphosate – Destructor of Human Health and Biodiversity

Dr Mason notes that agrochemical corporations wield tremendous control over the British and American governments and influence the formulation of pesticide regulations – effectively controlling human health and biodiversity.  She presents a Cancer Research UK graph recording the incidence of prostate cancer in Britain; to the untutored eye the trajectory looks chillingly similar to the American graphs.

glyph soy prostate cancer graph

Lucrative symbiosis: agrochemicals damage, then Big Pharma treats

Rosemary Mason looks at one example of investment in the medical sector and political funding:

“Syngenta is one of several chemicals companies which market biotech seeds and pesticides; AstraZeneca, its parent company, manufactures six different anti-cancer drugs mainly aimed at breast and prostate cancer.

“AstraZeneca’s Oncology Website predicts: “Cancer claims over 7 million lives every year and the number continues to rise. Deaths are estimated to reach 12 million by 2030.”

“Michael Pragnell MA MBA, founder of Syngenta, was appointed a Trustee of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in March 2010 and Chairman in November 2010. CRUK is donating £450 million/year to the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences – see the relevant government website, page 9. #

Dr. Nancy Swanson received her Ph.D. in physics from The Florida State University and then worked as a staff scientist for the United States Navy. She  taught physics at Western Washington University and holds five U.S. patents. She is the author of over 30 scientific publications and two books on women in science. More detail here.


Fracking – 2: mainstream evidence

As with asbestos, people do not die immediately as a result of fracking operations – and earthquakes in their vicinity have, as yet, done only minor damage . . .

NCBI logoAmerica’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bethesda, Maryland warns that public exposure to the many chemicals involved in energy development is expected to increase over the next few years, with uncertain consequences.

Its findings summarised:
  • Both air and water quality are affected by extraction of natural gas rich in methane using processes that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), in which chemical mixtures are injected into wells to break up rock formations and release gases.
  • Methane and fracking chemicals can also migrate into shallow aquifers used for drinking water wells.
  • VOCs present in drilling and fracking chemicals can cause symptoms such as headache, loss of coordination, and damage to the liver and kidneys; benzene is a carcinogen as well. In addition these compounds help to create ground-level ozone, which can contribute to severe respiratory and immune system problems.
In 2004, though the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency issued a report concluding there is very little risk that fracking can contaminate drinking water, there are some documented contamination incidents:

“For example, in August 2006, drilling fluids and methane were detected emerging from a hillside in Clark County, Wyoming, from a gas well surrounded by a rural housing development. Ultimately 8 million cubic feet of methane were released, in an attempt to ‘kill’ the glass blowout from the well. Subsequent tests showed contamination of shallow groundwater with hydrocarbon compounds.

“The drilling boom in Colorado’s Garfield County has triggered a rash of citizen complaints that petrochemical pollution has caused adrenal and pituitary tumors, headaches, nausea, joint pain, respiratory problems, and other symptoms . . .

VOC emissions in Garfield County rose 30% between 2004 and 2006, according to Mike Silverstein, deputy director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. The county is currently conducting a health risk assessment and an ambient air quality monitoring study.

In 2011 further research findings were released by the EPA; investigations in Wyoming and Pennsylvania found groundwater containing benzenes, xylenes, gasoline range organics, diesel range organics, and other chemicals as a result of fracking.

Further evidence may be read here:

Colborn, Theo, Carol Kwiatkowski, Kim Schultz, and Mary Bachran. “Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective.” Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 17.5 (2011): 1039-056

Colborn, Theo, Kim Schultz, Lucille Herrick, and Carol Kwiatkowski. “An Exploratory Study of Air Quality near Natural Gas Operations.” Y Human and Ecological Risk Assessment (n.d.): 1-22 (2012).

Science 17 May 2013: Vol. 340 no. 6134,DOI: 10.1126/science.1235009: Impact of Shale Gas Development on Regional Water Quality


 Earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing

As major gas producer and supplier, Centrica, is said to be in ‘advanced talks’ to buy a stake in Cuadrilla’s licence areas in Lancashire, spanning 450 square miles of the most beautiful area of Bowland in order to extract gas from shale we remember the BBC’s report that a study, commissioned by energy firm Cuadrilla, found it “highly probable” that shale gas test drilling triggered earth tremors in Lancashire – due to an “unusual combination of geology at the well site”.

The American experience

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing, and by disposal of hydraulic fracturing flowback into waste disposal wells, in several locations. Bill Ellsworth, a geoscientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, agrees that this happens but says: “We don’t see any connection between fracking and earthquakes of any concern to society.”

Martin Luff/CC BY 2.0

Martin Luff/CC BY 2.0

The National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences) has also observed that hydraulic fracturing, when used in shale gas recovery, does not pose a serious risk of causing earthquakes large enough to be of concern to the public.

However, the Nuclear Energy Institute reports that the frequency of the quakes has been increasing. In 2009, there were 50 earthquakes greater than magnitude-3.0 in the area spanning Alabama and Montana, and there were 87 quakes in 2010. In 2011 there were 134 earthquakes in the same area, a sixfold increase over 20th century levels.

Bans on fracking are operating in many countries with some areas declaring a moratorium. See 2012 information on this here A case for the precautionary principle?