10 Jul 2016

Shouldn't We Ban Booze First?


The other day, the people of Cerveza Artesana called their followers, both in Facebook y de su their web page to sign a petition to, basically, have the European Union ban glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world, IIRC.

The argument is that it is a carcinogenic substance, according to its categorisation by the International Agency for Research on Cancer – IARC, who include it in Category 2A – Probable Carcinogens, together with red meats, drinking maté at more than 65°C and being a hairdresser, among other things.

What's funny is that that same list includes in Category 1 – Known Carcinogens, together with smoking, carpentry, plutonium and exhaust from diesel engines the product that Cerveza Artesana actively promotes from their very name: alcoholic beverages.

It is not my intention to accuse these people of being hypocrites, I don't think they are, but they are ignorants. They have basically copypasted the same old arguments of the fear mongers, without questioning them, let along checking up the information. Otherwise, I doubt they would have referred to the IARC list, not only because it indicates that they are encouraging the consumption of something “more dangerous” than what they would like to have banned, but also because they would have been aware that the WHO and FAO have issued a joint statement saying that that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.

The problem here is that the meaning or purpose of the IARC list is either not taken into account or thoroughly ignored, mainly be media's thirst for bombastic headlines and clickbait. However, and as this video clearly explains, what those categories indicate is mostly a hypothetical risks: under certain conditions (exposure level, dose, etc.) this product/substance/activity is known to be carcinogen, probably or possibly is carcinogen, it has not been determined it is carcinogen, is unlikely to be so. To put a clear example: a couple of pints after work or a fag after a shag do not pose a cancer risk, just like eating bread made with flour from wheat sprayed with Roundup.

But sensationalism does not give a fuck about logic. A few months ago, the world was shaken upon learning that that traces of glyphosate had been found in the most popular German beers. The HORROR!

Though, if you go a bit beyond the apocalyptic headlines, or go around looking for more information, you'll come to a very different reality. Kevin Folta offers a sober take on the issue: the concentrations of glyphosate found in the beers are between 0.46 and 29.74 ppb. In other words, there are people who expect us to shit our pants because of some negligible doses of a “probably carcinogen” found in a product that has 50,000,000 ppb of a “known carcinogen”

Honestly, it's about time we cut that shit. If regardless of all the deaths caused by alcohol, we have no problem accepting the fact that it does not pose a serious health risk when consumed in moderation, why are we still afraid of a substance that has been proven to be effective and safe when used as indicated?

Na Zdraví!

PS: I sometimes wonder whether this campaign against glyphosate (which is patent free) is not orchestrated and financed by a producer or patent holder of an organic pesticide. (You see how easy is to come up with a conspiracy theory?)

8 comments:

  1. 30ppb is not toxic, but it begs the question "Where did it come from?". It must from from an ingredient at that level. It cannot come from the malt. Although most crops are routinely glyphosated a week before harvesting for ease, the glyphosate affects germination, and so cannot be used for a malting crop.
    So there is more than just malt in some German beers. Could it be high fructose syrups? Victorian Brewers routinely added invert sugar to boost their gravities.

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    1. "... and so cannot be used for a malting crop."
      That is certainly an interesting question. Do you have any sources about glyphosate's effect on malting? I'd really love to read about that.

      In any case, the issue that most people seem to have about it is that it is dangerous thing to have in beer.

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  2. After reading the original article:
    http://sustainablepulse.com/2016/02/25/german-beer-industry-in-shock-over-probable-carcinogen-glyphosate-contamination/

    I read a lot, both on their site, and others and was shocked to find that most crops are routinely glyphosated, and that it does affect the crop. It kills the plant, so the seed does not germinate, rendering it useless for malt or seeding.
    It also affects the crumb in oats, making them unfit for rolling.
    My point is not the danger, but the breaking of the German Beer Purity legislation. Has it now become common practise to add fructose syrups to large breweries beer? There is a tremendous secrecy about the contents of beer.
    Most of the traditional British Beers that I used to enjoy now have wheat in them. Why?
    Look at the labels on the cans and bottles carefully. They have changed. Guiness for example is now made from barley, not malt. The recipe has changed and it is not as it was.
    Or am I being a conspiracist? ;-)

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    1. Guinness has been using roasted barley for a pretty long time. In fact, it has become almost standard and expected to use roasted barley in stouts. Why many British beers use wheat? IIRC, it's good for head retention, or something along those lines.

      Still want to confirm that thing that glyphosate will render a grain useless for malting. It might be that there is a certain dose that would be good enough for drying it, but not kill the seed. I will have to look around.

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    2. What the hell are we talking about? For all we know, the glyphosate could be sprayed at the beginning of the crop cycle, leaving those traces in the seed.

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  3. Glyphosate is, I gather, considered acceptable for use on malting barley. At least in the UK. I read that the EU is (was?) looking at extending the licence for this use at least until the report of the European Chemicals Agency next year. It's used to to promote drying of the grain pre-harvest (i.e. what they call a crop desiccant) - drying grain is expensive in fuel. (N.B. I am not a barley grower).

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    1. Thanks for that info. I wouldn't be surprised if it's allowed everywhere, incl. Germany.

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  4. Thank you for that StringersBeer. I am corrected.

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