As Monsanto Fights $289 million Jury Ruling a New Study Finds Glyphosate Harms Honey Bees Derrick Broze September 27, 2018 32207 As a new study finds that an ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide is harming honey bees the corporation is seeking to have a recent $289 million jury award thrown out of court. A newly published study from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin points to the popular chemical glyphosate as a culprit for harming special gut bacteria in honey bees. The study, “Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees”, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and points to exposure to glyphosate as disrupting the gut bacteria and making bees more susceptible to illness. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide RoundUp. “Bees rely on a specialized gut microbiota that benefits growth and provides defense against pathogens,” the researchers write. “Exposing bees to glyphosate alters the bee gut community and increases susceptibility to infection by opportunistic pathogens.” The researchers investigated the effects of glyphosate exposure on specific sizes and composition of honey bee gut bacteria. “We found the microbiome was affected by glyphosate exposure during and after gut colonization, and that glyphosate exposure during early gut colonization increased mortality of bees exposed to an opportunistic pathogen.” Further, the researchers note that some species in the bee gut can handle higher concentrations of glyphosate due to the presence of a specific enzyme while others are sensitive due to the presence of another enzyme. Bayer AG, the newly minted parent company of Monsanto Co, released their own statement claiming the study was unreliable due to the small sample of individual bees and that the study does not meet international guidelines on pesticide research. The chemical company also stated that it was “questionable whether the concentrations of the substance tested could at all be absorbed by bee populations in the open over a relevant period of time.” The study comes as Bayer and Monsanto continue to fight claims that their products cause cancer in humans. In early August, a California jury found that Monsanto failed to notify Dewayne Johnson and other consumers of the dangers of the company’s chemical concoctions. The jury handed down a $289 million award to Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who claimed Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed-killers gave him cancer. Johnson told the jury he had been involved in two accidents during his work in which he was doused with the Monsanto’s RoundUp, the first of which happened in 2012. By 2014 Johnson had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Now Monsanto is claiming there is insufficient evidence available to support Johnson’s claims. The company said in motions filed in San Francisco’s Superior Court of California that the jury’s decision was insufficiently supported by the evidence presented at trial by school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson. Reuters reports that Monsanto called on San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to either throw the verdict out, reduce the award, or grant the company a new trial. The motion will be heard on October 10. Monsanto is also facing a reported 8,000 similar lawsuits across the United States and the government of Vietnam recently discussed taking legal actions against the much-maligned company. Bayer released a statement stating that Johnson’s evidence during his trial “fell well below the causation standard required under California law.” “The jury’s decision is wholly at odds with over 40 years of real-world use, an extensive body of scientific data and analysis … which support the conclusion that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe for use and do not cause cancer in humans,” Bayer said in a statement on Tuesday. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 released an assessment of glyphosate risks and concluded the chemical is not a likely carcinogen to humans. The EPA’s decision conflicts with a March 2015 report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that found that glyphosate “probably” contributes to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans and classified it as a ‘Group 2A’ carcinogen. The IARC report was published in The Lancet Oncology and detailed evaluations of organophosphate pesticides and herbicides. The report concluded that there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” The evidence for this conclusion was pulled from studies of exposure to the chemical in the US, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. The researchers found “convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause cancer in laboratory animals.” Shortly after the IARC review, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent agency funded by the European Union, shot back with their own study, claiming glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.” Those studies were followed by research from experts with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO released a statement claiming glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” exposed to it through food. The WHO co-signed the statement with the FAO. The organizations also found that glyphosate is not likely to be genotoxic — destructive to cell’s genetic material — in humans. As of 2018 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the European Food Safety Authority, and the United Nations say glyphosate does not pose a risk of cancer to humans. On the other end of the spectrum, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC states that it could be linked to cancer. Who do you trust? Leave your comments below.