A paper published this month in the physics journal Entropy attempts to claim that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, is connected as a cause, or a link in a chain to a cause, for numerous diseases, including autism, Alzheimer’s, obesity, anorexia nervosa, liver disease, reproductive and developmental disorders, and cancer. With no new data, a piecemeal approach, and low scientific quality, the paper is less a scientific paper and more sheer hypothetical speculation.
The authors, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, have strong connections with the anti-GM activist community. Samsel describes himself as helping “those who are victimized by industrial polluters for charity” and is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which last year undertook an anti-GM campaign. Seneff is affiliated with the Weston Price Association a foundation that supports organic and biodynamic farming and related activities, and has appeared on the television show hosted by Dr. Mercola, a longstanding critic of GM food.
Publication in a physics journal would not have subjected the paper to appropriate peer review by experts in relevant fields of biology and medicine.
The paper strings together numerous observations to propose a chain of causation linking glyphosate to these various health issues. Many of the individual observations made are controversial, incorrect, or poorly established. None of the disease associations are supported by available toxicology testing, experimentation, or by observations associating glyphosate exposure with these disease outcomes in human populations.
In short, the authors have put forth a series of highly elaborate assertions regarding causation in the absence of any observable associations. If one assumption or linkage in the overall string of assertions is incorrect, the entire argument collapses. And collapse it does. Further, biological systems are highly complex, and the authors’ approach fails to consider other hypothetical causes.