Friends of the Earth, the kooky offshoot of Sierra Club that hates science even more, is dumping its advertising budget into a claim it commissioned from a Maharishi Institute scholar who runs what is apparently an uncredentialed lab claiming they were able to detect a weedkiller in common food. And journalists have repeated it everywhere.

Any scientist could have told them that and saved their money.

Wait, scientists knew? Of course. In the modern era we can detect a chemical 1,000,000,000 times better in water than we could in the 1950s, so we can literally detect anything in anything at this point. Scientists would all state it is no surprise, any more than it would be a surprise to detect feces on organic food.

For that same reason, even though Friends of the Earth and the lab they commissioned, HRI, run by John Fagan, has refused repeated requests to send their results, we know based on the breezy methodology he claims to have used that finding glyphosate was guaranteed. 

It is also irrelevant.

But, but, you might protest, CNN says west coast statisticians say their meta-analysis says that the risk of cancer goes up if glyphosate is present.

Sure, in a statistical absolute risk way. In a real risk way, if the chance for even a farmer using glyphosate all of the time goes from 1 in a billion to 1.01 in a billion, would you in the food buying public be worried? No.

The Friends of the Earth claim is junk science because these were uncontrolled samples bought by allies of Friends of the Earth and sent in the mail. No legitimate study would allow uncontrolled samples to be handled that way, nor would you want to do a study of glyphosate in Iowa, where farming, and therefore glyphosate, is common. You'd send samples to two neutral independent labs that are certified GLP, not to some guy who is friends with osteopath and vaccine denier Joe Mercola and advertises that he will find glyphosate in anything if you pay him.

Using Fagan's HRI Labs, "detectable" levels of glyphosate are certain to be found because that is his business model. And it's a viable business model, he makes millions each year doing it, because we can detect anything in anything.

The actual amount detectable is orders of magnitude below already conservative EPA no effect levels but Friends of the Earth has a ready answer for that also. That is where belief in magic, homeopathy, becomes the methodology. Using their quasi-homeopathy, the presence of anything lets them claim a greater risk of causing cancer or at least turning boys into girls. Fagan and Friends of the Earth cite their allies Pete Myers and Fred vom Saal who claim EPA scientists just doesn't understand science. Because, they believe, at very low levels - minuscule amounts, a drop in 60 Olympic swimming pools, for example - chemicals have a biological effect they don't have at normal levels.

You read that right. They believe that the explanation for no harm from approved pesticides so far is that they only harm people at really high doses, or if a molecule is left behind. Nowhere in between. No one gets them in really high doses, but at trace levels, sure.  It just needs time to "bioaccumulate."

Then they ask you for money to stop Evil Science from killing us all.

Imagine if you went to a child's lemonade stand and paid a dollar for a drink and got water. Then imagine the child told you that the drink contained a molecule of lemon and Fred vom Saal said that is enough to get the full effect because lemon works on a u-shaped curve. Even better, if you buy 400 glasses per day in 14,000 years it will have bioaccumulated so much you will become a lemon. 

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That is the logic they are using. It sure isn't science.

Botanist James Wong puts it another way. In the UK, 99 percent of money has detectable levels of cocaine, but that does not mean you are getting high, even if you spend money every day for your entire life.

It is not a risk because biology does not work that way. Chemistry does not work that way. Toxicology does not work that way. Yet Friends of the Earth and John Fagan and Pete Myers and Fred vom Saal spend a lot of money trying to dupe the public into thinking it does.