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What happened to the tiny Key deer during Hurricane Irma?

 

By David Goodhue

Miami Herald

 

The federally protected Key deer were exposed to Hurricane Irma and authorities will assess their situation when it’s safe to return to the Keys.

 

Dan Clark superintendent of the National Key Deer Refuge, said his first priority as the massive storm approached was to evacuate National Wildlife Refuge personnel assigned to the area.

 

“After we receive information from Monroe County that it is safe to return and we can inhabit the Lower Keys, a post-storm assessment of our facilities and residences will be conducted to determine if we can operate,” Clark said.

The small deer, whose estimated numbers range from 800 to 1,000, live mostly on the Lower Keys islands of Big Pine Key and Little Torch Key.

It’s been a traumatic couple of years for the Keys treasures. First, after a nasty infection by the larvae of a parasitic fly called the screwworm began to infest the population in the fall of 2016. Not only did the screwworm take out a significant portion of the already-sensitive local deer population, it killed the animals slowly and painfully.

 

The infestation was finally eliminated after scientists released roughly 124 million sterile screwworm flies to mate with wild flies. The mating process results in eggs that never hatch. Five months after introducing the lab-made flies, the screwworm problem was over.

 

Then, earlier this summer, two young men – one from Miami-Dade County and the other from Broward – were arrested in Little Torch Key July 2 after a traffic stop by a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy revealed three live deer stowed in their car. Two does were in the back seat of the Hyundai Sonata, and a buck was in vehicle’s trunk.

 

The buck was badly injured in the ordeal and wildlife officials euthanized him. The men face charges federal poaching charges.

 

Now comes Irma, which has raked much of the Keys with its high winds, hard rain and damaging storm surges. The key deer habitat is only about 15 miles east of where Irma’s eye made landfall in the Keys Sunday morning.

What’s become of the key deer is not known. But, Clark said, not much could have been done to protect the wild animals from Mother Nature.

 

“Since the federal-trust resources on the Keys refuge are wild, we do not have specific plans to collect any deer,” Clark said. “We do not have the capacity to do so and husbandry following the hurricane would be extremely difficult.”

 

Like all other agencies planning to come back down to the Keys post-Irma, Clark said he and his staff have no idea what types of conditions to which they are returning so they can’t adequately plan their response when it comes to the deer.

 

“We will assess the status of all refuge resources when it is safe to do so and we have the ability to do so,” Clark said.

Secretary Zinke declares October National Hunting and Fishing Month

 

From The Outdoor Wire

 

Just days before National Hunting and Fishing Day – which is held on the fourth Saturday of September every year – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared October will officially be recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month at the Department. Zinke championed the order to recognize the lasting and positive impact of hunters and anglers on wildlife and habitat conservation in America. This order comes on the heels of several major sportsmen actions from Interior including the announcement September 20 of the addition of 600 acres of land in Arizona’s Santa Teresa Mountains to make Wilderness Areas accessible for hunting and fishing.

 

“I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That’s something I want more families to experience, which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be. Formally recognizing the contributions of hunters and anglers to wildlife and habitat conservation is long overdue.”

 

“Hunters, anglers, and target shooters are the best conservationists who contribute so much through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Richard Childress, second Vice President of the National Rifle Association, NASCAR driver, and honorary chair of Hunting and Fishing Day. “Last year, they contributed $1.2 billion toward conservation and protecting our natural resources. We need more mentors taking young people out and teaching them to hunt and fish, so I’m glad Secretary Zinke is promoting hunting and fishing at the federal level.” The declaration was signed at the grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri September 20. Event speakers included former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

 

President George H. W. Bush sent a video message with a virtual ribbon cutting. Earlier in the day Secretary Zinke scuba dove in the shark-filled aquarium and conducted a question and answer session with a fifth grade class of young conservationists.

 

Hunters and anglers contribute billions of dollars to conservation through initiatives like the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises nearly $40 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Excise taxes on firearms, ammo and tackle also generate more than a billion dollars per year through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts.

 

This September and October, the Department of the Interior is setting its sights on the continued role that hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation.

 

Earlier this month, Secretary Zinke signed a directive to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. The order expanded hunting, fishing and shooting on public lands and sought innovative solutions to open private land. It also focused on wildlife and habitat conservation and restoration as well as better collaboration with states, tribes and territorial governments. The move was widely praised by sportsmen and wildlife conservation organizations.

 

In August, the Secretary announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 National Wildlife Refuges, and he announced the initial stages of a plan to acquire land to make the Bureau of Land Management Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible for the first time ever to hunters, hikers, and wildlife watchers.

 

On his first day in office, Secretary Zinke reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands, and he began the process of expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands across the Department.

 

“It’s imperative that we have people like Secretary Zinke speaking about and promoting hunting and fishing. It’s not only our heritage, it’s also the key to true conservation,” said Craig Morgan, a country music performer who performed at the event. “It is refreshing that Secretary Zinke understands the value of hunting and fishing to American conservation,” said Major David Eaton, who spoke at the event. “The more public game lands become available to Americans, the better off our country will be.”

In addition, Secretary Zinke recently made recommendations to President Trump on 27 national monuments, calling for changes to some that, while still protecting the land, would also protect and expand public access to that land for citizens who want to hunt, fish, hike, and experience the joy and beauty of those public lands.

 

Editor’s note: Unfortunately many of the recommendations by Secretary Zinke call for reducing the size of some monuments while opening other monuments to oil, gas and coal exploitation, negatively impacting the habitat available to wildlife and hunters on these public lands.

National Hunting and Fishing Day pledge

 

For 45 years, Congress has authorized the fourth Saturday in September to be designated National Hunting and Fishing Day – a way to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in fish and wildlife conservation.

 

To celebrate this remarkable record of conservation, to pass on the traditions and heritage I love, and to protect land and wildlife for future generations …

 

I hereby PLEDGE to take someone hunting, fishing or shooting between now and Saturday, September 23, 2017.

 

Go to: https://content.basspro.com/content/sweepstakes/index.cfm?sweepsName=2017NHFDaySweeps&mode=insertApp. Take the pledge and enter for a chance to win amazing grand prizes from Richard Childress Racing, Big Cedar Lodge, and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

How a good idea became a great tradition

 

Over 100 years ago, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. They were the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species.

 

Led by fellow sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, these early conservationists called for the first laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife. They urged sustainable use of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies. These actions were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic conservation successes of all time. Populations of white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood ducks and many other species began to recover from decades of unregulated exploitation.

 

During the next half-century, in addition to the funds they contributed for conservation and their diligent watch over the returning health of America’s outdoors, sportsmen worked countless hours to protect and improve millions of acres of vital habitat – lands and waters for the use and enjoyment of everyone.

 

In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era’s heightened environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn’t understand the crucial role that sportsmen had played-and continue to play-in the conservation movement.

 

The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe’s idea and created “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day” in the state.

 

With determined prompting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the concept soon emerged on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills.

 

On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day, writing, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”

 

By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The response was dramatic.

 

National, regional, state and local organizations staged some 3,000 “open house” hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges to suburban frog ponds, providing an estimated four million Americans with a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor sports.

 

Over the years, National Hunting and Fishing Day boasted many more public relations successes, assisted by celebrities who volunteered to help spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women. Honorary chairs have included George Bush, Tom Seaver, Hank Williams Jr., Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, George Brett, Robert Urich, Ward Burton, Louise Mandrell, Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy and many other sports and entertainment figures.

 

National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated the fourth Saturday of every September, remains the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote the outdoor sports and conservation.

Conservation easement benefits Lesser Prairie-chicken

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized permanent conservation agreements with a private landowner to conserve 968 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat in southcentral Kansas. In addition, a 160-acre tract owned by another private landowner that is fenced and managed with the property will be protected under a 10-year conservation agreement that was finalized this week. These two tracts of land are immediately adjacent to a 1,781-acre tract, which was placed under a permanent conservation agreement earlier this year. The conserved acreage is all native rangeland currently being managed for livestock production, and this historical use will continue.

Thanks to conservation-minded landowners, we now have a complex of 2,909 acres being managed with the needs of the lesser prairie-chicken in mind,” said Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program manager. “The ranch is in very good condition due to a long history of good management and there are two active leks on the property.”

The permanent conservation easement on the 968-acre tract was purchased by WAFWA and will be held and monitored by Pheasants Forever. The easement restricts future development and activities that would be detrimental to the habitat for the bird. All other property rights associated with historical use of the land will be retained by the private landowner.. WAFWA has also established an endowment that will provide the landowner with sufficient payments to implement a lesser prairie-chicken conservation plan in perpetuity. This transaction not only permanently protects key prairie habitat, but also ensures that this property will remain a working cattle ranch

“Pheasants Forever is proud to partner with WAFWA and the private landowners to complete this voluntary conservation easement,” said Jordan Martincich, director of development for Pheasants Forever. “The conservation values associated with this project will have a positive impact on wildlife habitat for future generations. We hope other landowners will partner with Pheasants Forever and WAFWA to perpetually protect their working lands for the benefit of wildlife and the benefit of the ranching community.”

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry, as well as improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies. Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners enrolled in the plan. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Landowners interested in participating in one of the short-term, long-term or permanent conservation options available under the Lesser Prairie-chicken Range-wide Plan should contact Roger Wolfe at roger.wolfe@wafwa.org

Tell Secretary Zinke not to dismantle Sage-Grouse conservation plans

 

The Department of the Interior is considering weakening or eliminating habitat protections for Greater Sage-Grouse;

comments due Friday, August 4

 

By David O’Neill

Chief Conservation Officer

National Audubon Society

 

 

Once numbered in the millions, the Greater Sage-Grouse has declined precipitously due to widespread habitat destruction. To help save this iconic bird, many stakeholders’ states, ranchers, conservationists, industry, scientists, and federal agencies’ collaboratively developed a balanced conservation plan to protect 67 million acres of habitat for the sage-grouse and 350 other species. These plans also ensure sustainable economic growth for communities across the West.

 

Now, the Department of the Interior is considering weakening or eliminating these vital habitat protections by ordering a review of the plans. You can help by weighing in with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Tell him to maintain the Greater Sage-Grouse protections. The deadline to comment is Friday, August 4. From court challenges to backdoor attempts to put harmful language in must-pass Congressional bills, anti-conservation interests have been working to tear apart the conservation plans since they were adopted. Each time, Audubon members have raised their voices and succeeded in defending this historic conservation effort.

 

The birds need your help today.

 

The Department’s review raises concerns that habitat protections could be weakened or eliminated by exploring “creative approaches” that are alternatives to protecting habitat, such as captive breeding and setting population targets state by state. Neither approach is supported by applicable science nor experts in the field. The order also emphasizes eliminating burdens on energy development on public lands, not on the conservation of sage-grouse. However, recent studies have shown that very few of the protected areas overlap with high-potential places for oil and gas development. Tell Secretary Zinke that prioritizing energy development over conservation or including scientifically unsupported approaches in conservation plans would spell disaster for these incredible birds. He needs to let the existing plans work.

 

Put your cursor on either of the colored sections above and it will take you to a site that will help you respond to Secretary Zinke.

Aerial surveys confirm Lesser Prairie-chicken population is holding steady

 

The latest lesser prairie-chicken survey shows population trends remain stable after six years of aerial survey data collection, according to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). The survey indicates an estimated breeding population of 33,269 birds this year, up from 25,261 birds counted last year. Though scientists are encouraged by the numbers, they know year-to-year fluctuations are the norm with upland birds like the lesser prairie-chicken.

“The survey results indicate a 32 percent increase in the number of birds over last year, but we don’t read too much into short-term population fluctuations,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program manager.

 

by J.N. Stuart

by J.N. Stuart

 

“The monitoring technique used for this survey is designed to track trends, which more accurately reflect the amount of available habitat and population stability,” Wolfe said. “The bottom line is that the population trend over the last six years indicates a stable population, which is good news for all involved in lesser prairie-chicken conservation efforts.”

 

Lesser prairie-chickens can be found in four ecoregions in five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Wildlife biologists note prairie-chicken numbers fluctuate annually due to changes in habitat conditions, which are mainly influenced by weather patterns. The surveys this year indicated apparent population increases in three of the four ecoregions and rangewide, with a decrease estimated in the fourth ecoregion.

 

The shortgrass prairie ecoregion of northwest Kansas saw the biggest increase in birds, followed by the mixed-grass prairie ecoregion of the northeast Texas Panhandle, northwest Oklahoma and southcentral Kansas. The sand sagebrush ecoregion of southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas also registered an increase in the number of breeding birds. An apparent population decline was noted in the shinnery oak ecoregion of eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle.

 

“We’d also like to point out that the aerial surveys this year were taken before a late spring snowstorm blasted through a portion of the bird’s range, just prior to the peak of nest incubation,” said Wolfe. “Like all wildlife, the health of these birds depends on the weather. Rainfall at the right time means healthy habitat for the birds, and heavy wet snow like we saw in late April can have a negative impact on survival and productivity. We’ll know more about the impact of that weather event after aerial surveys are completed next year.”

 

The Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. It was developed to ensure long-term viability of the lesser prairie-chicken through voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry. The plan allows industry to continue operations while reducing and mitigating impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Industry contributions support conservation actions implemented by participating private landowners. To date, industry partners have committed more than $63 million in enrollment and mitigation fees to pay for conservation actions, and landowners across the range have agreed to conserve more than 145,000 acres of habitat through 10-year and permanent conservation agreements.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to benefit Lesser Prairie-chickens

 

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has awarded a grant to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to restore lesser prairie-chicken habitat. The $197,309.25 grant is funded through NFWF’s ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program.

 

“We appreciate our partnership with NFWF and ConocoPhillips and look forward to applying these funds as we continue to implement the Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Plan,” said Alexa Sandoval, Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Chairman of the Lesser Prairie-chicken Initiative Council. “Restoration work is key to the long-term survival of the bird and this grant will contribute to the combined efforts to keep the bird off the endangered species list.”

 

The bird was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, but was de-listed in 2016 after a federal judge ruled on a lawsuit and vacated the listing. The judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not thoroughly consider active conservation efforts in making the listing decision, namely the activities associated with WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the status of the lesser prairie-chicken across its five-state range to determine whether it should be listed again.

 

The NFWF grant will fund restoration work on up to 1,000 acres of private land that will connect larger fragmented pieces of prairie-chicken habitat. Good habitat must be contiguous to benefit lesser prairie-chickens.

 

“The rangewide plan calls for us to focus our efforts as strategically as possible,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator. “By connecting good bird habitat, more acreage will be available for the birds to thrive.”

 

The rangewide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry, and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies. Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan, along with grants from partners like NFWF. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.

 

For more info on NFWF’s ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program, visit www.nfwf.org/spirit/Pages/home.aspx

Light Goose Conservation Order open now

 

Waterfowl hunting addicts may be having withdrawals since the duck seasons closed on Jan. 29 and regular goose seasons closed Feb. 12. But they will find temporary relief in the Light Goose Conservation Order, which is open Feb. 13-April 30, 2017. In an effort to reduce the population of snow and Ross’ geese, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) authorized this special hunting season for light geese.

 

To increase hunter success, the conservation order authorizes hunting methods not allowed during the regular seasons, including the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns. Extended shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. And there is no daily bag or possession limits.

 

The conservation order was first established in 1999 when it was determined that the population of light geese had increased more than 300 percent since the mid-1970s. Extraordinary numbers of geese have denuded portions of their fragile tundra breeding habitat in the arctic, which may take decades to recover. And the damage is impacting other bird species that nest there, including semi-palmated sandpipers and red-necked phalaropes.

 

For more information on this season, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click on “Hunting/When to Hunt/Migratory Birds.”

What’s the real risk of Monsanto’s controversial weed killer?

 

The latest government report on glyphosate contradicts the findings of the World Health Organization’s cancer group.

 

By Willy Blackmore

TakePart

 

Over the past 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has considered the health risks posed by the herbicide glyphosate—best known by the Monsanto brand name Roundup—on five occasions. When it first looked at the issue in 1985, the agency determined that glyphosate was a “possible human carcinogen.” A year later, a third-party panel called into question the study that first assessment was based on, and the EPA declared glyphosate “not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity”—the jury’s still out, essentially—while promising to continue to examine the issue as new research came out. Then, in 1991, the EPA took another look and backed off further from its initial assessment, saying there was “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.” In 2015, that assessment was updated to the safer-sounding “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” On Friday, a new review of research published by the EPA again found that the herbicide, which is now the most widely used in agricultural history, does not cause cancer.

 

But there’s a bit of a problem with the agency’s three-decade drift toward declaring the herbicide as safe in stronger and stronger terms: Last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The announcement was major news: The declaration has put glyphosate into regulatory limbo in the European Union, where its safety approval may not be renewed, and has led to calls to ban the chemical outright in the United States. In the wake of the IARC announcement, tests of food products paid for by consumer groups have found trace levels of glyphosate in everything from beer to eggs to oatmeal.

 

The new EPA report—part of its ongoing risk assessment of glyphosate that is now years behind schedule and may not be completed until next spring—follows another that was published briefly on the agency’s website before being taken down. (The EPA said it was published prematurely, but the pages were marked “final.”) It too determined that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

It has all led to growing consumer concern over glyphosate—and distrust of both Monsanto, its major producer, and the processes by which its safety is determined.

 

So does glyphosate cause cancer? Consumers tend to see things like carcinogenicity in black-and-white terms: something either gives people cancer or it does not. Just look at the calls for the herbicide to be banned: Armed with the “probably carcinogenic to humans” claim, petitions like one from Care2, which garnered more than 128,000 signatures, argue, “Glyphosate should not be in our consumer products in any amount. It is not safe as previously claimed.”

 

Reviews of scientific literature like those conducted by the IARC and the EPA are anything but black and white. The process involves sifting through piles of research data, determining what qualifies as a sound result, and making a case—carcinogenic or not carcinogenic—based on the evidence that the bulk of the data, especially the sound data, supports.

 

Should a weed killer that might cause cancer be banned?

In the IARC report from last year, the authors wrote, “There was limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.” The case-control studies the IARC scientists looked at “reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides.”

 

But those studies predominantly looked at white men in the United States, Canada, and Sweden. Sure, in recent history in those places, white men have done a lot of farming, and what with farmers encountering glyphosate in far higher amounts than anyone ingests by eating oatmeal or honey, that seems like a reasonable place to start investigating whether exposure to an agricultural chemical might give someone cancer. But it’s not a representative sample of humanity—no women, a single ethnicity, and in a limited geographical area. The IARC authors looked at some studies on lab animals and at research done on increased blood levels of a compound associated with glyphosate, but the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma studies provided the bulk of the evidence.

 

In compiling the EPA review, a much broader swath of research was reviewed, and the authors also considered the studies included in the IARC report that looked at farmers exposed to glyphosate. The EPA found fault with all the studies, determining that they showed a statistically insignificant increase in risk or did not properly control for other pesticide exposures. In discussing the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma studies, the authors wrote, “There is clearly a strong potential for confounding by co-exposures to other pesticides since many are highly correlated and have been reported to be risk factors for NHL.” This means that these men may have developed cancer because they worked with pesticides, but glyphosate might not have been the culprit.

 

With regard to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the EPA authors concluded, “Due to study limitations and contradictory results across studies of at least equal quality, a conclusion regarding the association between glyphosate exposure and risk of NHL cannot be determined based on the available data.”

 

So does glyphosate cause cancer? The IARC said it’s probable and largely based that assertion on a series of studies that found “limited evidence” that it is carcinogenic to humans. That’s the group’s mandate: to determine if a chemical might, even in rare circumstances, cause cancer. The IARC review by no means says that eating foods that contain trace amounts of glyphosate is a cancer risk. While the EPA arrived at a different conclusion with regard to the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma studies, it did determine that a link between glyphosate and that type of cancer couldn’t be determined based on the existing data. Though it noted that many of the studies were conducted before 1996, when Roundup Ready crops were first introduced and glyphosate use began to skyrocket.

 

While it’s likely that more tests finding trace amounts of glyphosate in food products will grab headlines and that there will be continued calls for new regulations, the focus on risk to consumers may be a case of missing the forest for the trees. As Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Network told TakePart in May, there may be health concerns, “but I think the bigger problem—and potential solution—lies with the USDA supporting a better agricultural system that doesn’t rely on these chemicals. I think our biggest concern remains the kind of system that agriculture gets stuck in—the pesticide treadmill of overuse, misuse, developing or encouraging invasive pests or invasive weeds that we then need to bring in the next chemical in order to deal with.”

 

Solving that problem involves asking a question more complicated than whether or not glyphosate causes cancer.