Sunday, March 29, 2015

"I Drank Weed Killer"

Kevin M. Folta, "a scientist in a scientifically illiterate nation," writes:
This week controversy ignited when Patrick Moore, a prominent advocate for Golden Rice, was interviewed on the French TV channel Canal+.  He correctly claimed that glyphosate was safe enough to drink and not likely causing alleged cancer outbreaks in Argentina.  When the host offered him a glass of Roundup herbicide he did not drink it and walked off the set.

Of course, twitter and other opinion outlets of the world's pseudoexperts exploded with the fact that Moore was forced to eat his words rather than drink weed killer.  

And then the Big M felt compelled to remind everyone that weed killer is not a beverage and that Moore is not representing the company. 

Over the years I've done the demo, not hammering a glass of the stuff, but mixing a tablespoon of the working solution into diet Mountain Dew.  No big deal.

Of course when you do a stunt like this everyone goes completely unhinged, screaming that a scientist endorses drinking weed killer. As usual, it is not about thinking-- it is about harming a scientist's credibility. My demo is not about drinking weed killer-- it is about demonstrating empirically-derived biological thresholds, physiological fates of well-characterized chemicals, and understanding a herbicide's mechanisms of action.

But that's nuance and science, so don't expect them to understand that. 

So for the record, don't drink weed killer.  There is absolutely no evidence that glyphosate is going to kill you or even make you sick in working concentrations.  However, the formulation used on plants contains surfactants, detergent-like compounds that help the chemical penetrate a leaf.  

Anyone who has ever consumed soap (long story) knows that it gives you a royal case of crazy colon, and that would likely be the effect of drinking a full glass of the commercial herbicide preparation. 

Moore might have been planning a long flight or a marathon run, places where a case of the urgent flaming schmootzies would be most unwelcome. 

My official words- don't drink weed killers or any ag chemicals. Instead, take the time to learn how to use them safely, and always do so within the labeling guidance. 


  1. Cute trick by him, to drink one tablespoon, one time (or a few times).

    Not so cute when ingested consistently, alone or as part of the residue in GMO corn. Scroll down to see the photos of the lab mice, treated for three years:

    There are lots of nints of potential problems arising from glyphosate consumption:

  2. I invite you to read comment two on Dr. Folta's article that you linked, above. Researchers found glyphosate to cause kidney failure or death when 184-263 ml (12 to 17 tablespoons) were ingested (and that the effects were caused by surfactant action in some cases and due to aspiration of vomit due to larynx damage in other cases).

    Markedly up the dosage, brave Dr. Folta, and let's see the results a few days later.

  3. Pesticides are the most tested chemicals on the market. Compare that to things like art supplies (e.g., paints, clays, drawing products, etc.), things that everybody's child uses in the public schools, which are hardly tested at all, and are virtually unregulated.

  4. Good luck with your future cancer fight Kevin.

  5. Even WHO is now saying glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

  6. Some GMO supporters just might be Monsanto shills after all:

  7. I would have responded that I will drink that quantity of Roundup if the challenger would eat the same amount of toothpaste. And, no phone calks to poison control allowed.

  8. As if Roundup was an issue?

    For further reading:

    EPA Proposes to Withdraw Sulfuryl Fluoride Tolerances

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has re-evaluated the current science on fluoride and is taking steps to begin a phased-down withdrawal of the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride, a pesticide that breaks down into fluoride and is commonly used in food storage and processing facilities. Sulfuryl fluoride is currently registered for the control of insect pests in stored grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, coffee and cocoa beans, and for use in food handling and processing facilities. Although sulfuryl fluoride residues in food contribute only a very small portion of total exposure to fluoride, when combined with other fluoride exposure pathways, including drinking water and toothpaste, EPA has concluded that the tolerance (legal residue limits on food) no longer meets the safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and the tolerances for sulfuryl fluoride should be withdrawn.

    Sulfuryl fluoride is an important replacement for several post-harvest uses of the stratospheric ozone-depleting pesticide, methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has been phased-out in developed countries under the Montreal Protocol, and many industries that previously relied on methyl bromide to control insect pests in stored and processed food commodities and in food processing and handling facilities now depend on sulfuryl fluoride. Since sulfuryl fluoride is an important alternative to the ozone depleting pesticide methyl bromide, EPA is proposing to phase out uses of sulfuryl fluoride over a period of three years. EPA is working to identify potential alternatives.


  9. I don't know why but I can eat organic bread that is GMO free and not have wheat crash (fall asleep like I had been slipped a micky and wake with a bad headache).

    At first I thought it may be wheat allergy or celiac but after reading some people with anecdotal evidence of having the same reaction in the US but not in Europe I decided to try Organic. I was surprised that it worked.

    I can have toast with organic bread but if I get GMO stuff I will usually fall asleep within a hour. I can try to fight it but it feels like trying to fight staying up your 48th hour. You can do it but you feel like crap.

    Also just because you are a Scientist it doesn't make you write. In fact you are wrong most of the time until you can conclusively prove your theory. When it comes to food science and chemistry unless it's a long term study (on the order of 40 to 50 years) you are mostly guessing as to the affects. Most things will not impact in you immediately.