Pop quiz: What do the New York Times, Jeffrey "the yogic flying instructor" Smith, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have in common?
Answer: They all shamelessly lie about glyphosate to make money. (You get full credit if you answered, "They are all bad sources of science information.")
Danny Hakim, a journalist (I'm using that word rather loosely) who writes for the New York Times, promotes conspiracy theories about American agriculture. He once wrote an article comparing pesticides to "Nazi-made sarin gas." And he followed that up with another article accusing the U.S. government of knowing that glyphosate was killing people but covering it up. I eagerly await his next exposé on the aliens the government is hiding at Area 51.
The same sort of hysteria is repeated by Jeffrey Smith, a yogic flying instructor (yes, it's as weird as it sounds) who operates the deceptively named Institute for Responsible Technology. Like the New York Times, Smith perpetuates one lie after another about biotechnology. Now, he's spreading lies about medical treatments for cancer which are so egregious that, if cancer patients actually followed the advice, they would die. So much for responsible technology.
In our experience, birds of a feather flock together. It's an easy jump from being anti-GMO to being anti-vaccine or anti-technology in general.
NRDC: Cranks, Crackpots, and Conspiracy Theorists
Thus, joining this motley crew is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a group of cranks, crackpots, and conspiracy theorists who knowingly spread misinformation about nuclear power, GMOs, and scary "chemicals."
While the NRDC is fond of calling everybody who disagrees with them a "shill" for industry, the reality is quite different. The NRDC rakes in a whopping $130 million every year telling people that the latest technological developments in energy and biotechnology are just too scary for Americans. It's good business. The President, Rhea Suh, made $541,000 in 2016. Not bad. That's more than half of ACSH's entire budget.
Well, NRDC is back, trying to cash in on the delirium surrounding glyphosate. What better time to cash in than when trial lawyers are duping juries into awarding multi-million-dollar verdicts to sympathetic cancer patients? It is within this milieu that NRDC's Jennifer Sass said:
"EPA's Pesticide office is out on a limb here—with Monsanto and Bayer and virtually nobody else. Health agencies and credible non-industry experts who've reviewed this question have all found a link between glyphosate and cancer."
That's not just a lie. That's a pants-on-fire, nose-is-longer-than-a-telephone-wire sort of whopper. The truth is literally the exact opposite.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claim that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer. That is also the conclusion of regulatory agencies in Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea. (See this excellent infographic from the Genetic Literacy Project for more.)
To insist that glyphosate causes cancer, you would have to reject the scientific consensus established by regulators around the entire world. (Or, you'd have to believe that Monsanto has secretly bought off every major nation on the planet.) The only groups who reject the consensus are IARC and the environmental activists and their lawyers who rake in millions of dollars telling juries that biotechnology is killing them.
We can predict that the New York Times will cheer them on and uncritically parrot whatever the NRDC says, because needlessly scaring people is good business for them, too. And for the yogic flying instructor.
It's utterly infuriating to watch as modern medicine and science are mocked and exploited for personal profit by environmental activists and lawyers. What a stupid time to be alive.