A paper published in the online journal Entropy has caught a lot of reporters’ attention, since it suggests that Roundup herbicide (glyphosate) may be the root cause of a bundle of maladies “including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancer,” as reported by the Huffington Post yesterday.
The paper by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff was recently published in Entropy, which while claiming to be a peer-reviewed journal is not a place where you would expect to find articles on biology. Looking at a current table of contents, it seems more to specialize on physics. It isn't even indexed by PubMed.
So was this bizarre article peer-reviewed by actual biologists? No matter, neither Samsel nor Seneff are biologists either. Seneff is associated with the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Her homepage says she has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering.
And Anthony Samsel describes himself as an Independent Scientist and Consultant. He is retired from Arthur D Little, and has done work that seems to be primarily chemical engineering.
And they couldn’t have read it either.
While the paper is dense with biological nomenclature and unfamiliar terms, as well as 286 references, the important thing to realize is that the authors didn’t conduct any research at all. It is a review of recent literature with long convoluted arguments leading up to their points.
And this is easy to spot, because almost every other paragraph is full of scientific “weasel words” and naïve references to discredited research.
For example, they refer 5 times to Seralini’s completely discredited paper that claims the GMO crops (and maybe glyphosate we think) cause rat tumors. The European Food Safety Association and studies from 6 nations have concluded that the study was inadequately designed and reported and that even after they requested further information, Seralini did not provide it. Six French Science Academies concurred.
In Section 3, they refer to autism spectrum disorder (ASD)as being associated with “dysbiosis of the gut,” even though the papers they refer to are based on the discredited and withdrawn papers by Wakefield.
In Section 6, they refer to “leaky gut syndrome,” which is not a recognized diagnosis and refer to an obscure paper in an alternative medicine journal that attempts to explain obesity in terms of “chemical toxins.”
But since they authors did no actual research they were left to make up bizarre causes and effects with weasel words like:
- One can surmise that
- Could be a contributing factor
- We develop a novel hypothesis
- We suspect this has to do with glyphosate’s effect…
- We hypothesize that
- …and this could be a factor…
- …could substantially enhance…
- It is plausible that…
- Is like synergistic in combination with glyphosate
- This effect can conceivable explain…
- We hypothesize that DHEA sulfate levels are a hormonal signal
- …as might be induced by glyphosate’s interference with tryptophan synthese…
- …can lead to inflammatory bowel disaease…
- …could be anticipated that…
They even manage to link glyphosate to bee colony collapse disorder and obesity to the increased use of glyphosate without any evidence whatever. It is now pretty much accepted that bee colony collapse is caused by neonicotinoid pesticides.
And since it is well known that little glyphosate is ever absorbed into the body, but is nearly all eliminated in the urine and feces, almost every one of these hypotheses does not stand up to actual facts.
This paper is not just baloney, it is a whole delicatessen!