Glyphosate was back in the news last week. As expected, a second European agency found that that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen.
On the face of it, this latest determination is contrary to that of a UN agency’s classification in March 2015, that glyphosate was “probably” a human carcinogen.
Both determinations looked at the hazard that glyphosate poses to human health and came to different conclusions.
Of the two agencies, the UN one studied only independent research. It also explored the impact of other chemicals added to glyphosate.
These differences mean that the UN research carries more weight for me when I consider using chemical pesticides.
Instead of looking at hazard, the European Food Safety Authority looked at the risk that glyphosate poses, and also found no basis for classifying the chemical as a carcinogen.
Hazard and risk? Are they not the same thing?
No, not really. Hazard is about the possibility of a substance being a carcinogen. Risk is about how likely it is that you will get cancer from being exposed to the hazard.
If you don’t expose yourself to a hazardous substance, whether nuclear waste or glyphosate, then the risk of contracting cancer is negligible.
So if you have to use this hazardous chemical, then taking precautions will reduce the risk of it undermining your, or your children’s, health.
The risk is zero when you grow your own food without using glyphosate.
When it comes to the risks of eating GMOs, there are no precautions we can take despite the risks being real.
Scientists are concerned that we do not know how differently our genes will work, when we eat GMO foods.
Again, these risks posed by GMO foods are minimised when we grow our own food.
The third reason to grow your own food, is around the need for us to take action on climate change.
Harvesting fresh produce from our own garden achieves two climate actions. One is a reduction in green house gases emitted to the atmosphere. The other is to increase the carbon stored in our soils compared to industrialised agriculture.
Glyphosate, GMOs and climate change, are all hazards. All are issues of our time, consequences of a capitalist economic system focused more on corporate profits than on the health and wellbeing of people.
As hazards, there is now little that we can do individually, to undo their presence in our society.
But the risk these hazard pose can be minimised when you grow your own food.
A beginners Grow Your Own Food course runs at Pukekohe’s St Andrews Church hall on Wednesday evenings, starting April 5th and running for six weeks. Interested? Please leave your name and contact number at 09 238 7228.
Or download our brochure: Growing Your Own Food Course.page1