IN RESPONSE TO ‘What on Earth are You Eating?’ from issue 108 available here.

Your recent story on GM Crops and the herbicide glyphosate leads me to wonder why other media outlets seem deaf to the dangers. Following the California court finding that Monsanto knew of cancer risks posed by its glyphosate-based weed killers, the BBC’s Today programme’s first reaction was to interview British farmer and chair of the NFU Crop Board, Thomas Bradshaw, who said British farmers were worried about the possibility of NOT being able to spray their fields with Roundup, which was “completely safe”.

The Today presenter, who didn’t even know how to pronounce glyphosate, failed to challenge Mr Bradshaw on his highly questionable assertions.

Next day was an item about Glastonbury banning glyphosate on public land, instead using a non-toxic weed control called Foamstream. However, no mention of cancer, and references to crystals suggested the whole idea was a bit flaky.

Today later revisited the topic, interviewing an obscure German environment minister, who also failed to address the dangers of cancer, but did declare that Roundup had a detrimental effect on biodiversity, destroying “nature’s network” – the food chain for different species.

That was followed immediately by an interview, twice the length, with Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre. She came out with some preposterous  claims: glyphosate has a “good effect on the environment”, “improves the quality of the soil”,  “kills poisonous weeds” and reduces the need for deep ploughing (probably true) which “releases greenhouse gasses” (extremely controversial). Ms McIntyre lists a directorship of MCP Systems Consultants among her business interest. MCP Systems Consultants lists the pharmaceutical industry among its clients. Neither mentioned by the BBC!

So we are still waiting for any reporting or analysis of the strong links between cancer and Roundup on the Today programme – or on other outlets except, it would seem, the Hastings Independent.

From Tony Raine

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