By Alison Campbell 05/10/2018 2

Glyphosate is another of those substances (like fluoride and 1080) that can be the focus of a lot of unease. So it wasn’t entirely surprising to see the claim on WAVES’ FB page that glyphosate is found in vaccines.

Predictably, various little Gish gallops saw Yellow told that injection and ingestion aren’t the same, and by the way what about mercury? However, Yellow also asked for “evidence that [glyphosate] is above the background levels in drinking water or mother’s milk. Please cite evidence that glyphosate levels are at dangerous levels in vaccines, as hinted at by “Glyphosate has also been found invaccines” (sic)”.

Which is exactly what I’d have asked. For I suspect that WAVES’ claim is based on either a very poor study done by the activist group Moms Across America (MAAM), or claims made by researchers such as Drs Seneff* (who is opposed to both vaccination and the use of glyphosate) and Samsel.

If the latter, then WAVES should really read this critical review of their claims, which points out the distinct lack of any convincing clinical evidence supporting them. The authors comment that

We found that these authors inappropriately employ a deductive reasoning approach based on syllogism. We found that their conclusions are not supported by the available scientific evidence. Thus, the mechanisms and vast range of conditions proposed to result from glyphosate toxicity presented by Samsel and Seneff in their commentaries are at best unsubstantiated theories, speculations, or simply incorrect. This misrepresentation of glyphosate’s toxicity misleads the public, the scientific community, and regulators. Although evidence exists that glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic below regulatory set safety limits, the arguments of Samsel and Seneff largely serve to distract rather than to give a rational direction to much needed future research investigating the toxicity of these pesticides, especially at levels of ingestion that are typical for human populations.

What about MAAM’s ‘study’?

For a start, it doesn’t seem to have been published, other than on their website: it doesn’t show up in either Google Scholar or PubMed. Secondly, MAAM claim that the study found glyphosate in vaccine samples at very low levels indeed – mostly 0.2 parts per billion (ppb) or lower. But this was done using a test (ELISA, an ‘enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) designed for use in water, & with a lower level of sensitivity that’s above almost all the findings in MAAM’s report. In other words, its accuracy at these very low ppb levels is doubtful and another test – a combination of gas & mass spectrometry – would be needed to confirm the results.  Which doesn’t seem to have happened.

Thus, I suspect that Yellow’s request for proper citations to support WAVES’ claim will go unanswered.


* Worth noting at this point that Dr Seneff is a computer scientist, not a biologist, & hasn’t actually done any productive (data-generating) research into this issue. She & Dr Samsel have published quite a bit on glyphosate (a lot of it in what might be characterised as ‘predatory’ journals), but neither a Google Scholar nor a PubMed search found anything relating to glyphosate & vaccines.

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2 Responses to “Testing the accuracy of another claim from WAVES”

  • Just to add more to this (hope you don’t mind!) –

    — The authors of the quote who criticise Seneff’s ‘research’ on glyphosate, Robin Mesnage and Michael Antoniou, are themselves considered with caution by some.

    My reading of the latter part of the quote from “Although evidence exists that glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic below regulatory set safety limits, …” onwards is that Mesnage and Antoniou feel Seneff drags down their own, also ‘controversial’, claims about glyphosate. (I read the full article a while back, but haven’t time to revisit it: this is how the longer piece read to me, essentially criticising Seneff in part as an excuse to bring in their own claims as ‘reasonable’. That’s poor reasoning. That Seneff’s claims are not credible does not shift the credibility or otherwise of Mesnage and Antoniou’s position. It reminds me of the shifting the Overton window issue, where extreme positions can shift the ‘allowability’ of somewhat less controversial positions that otherwise would also be considered outliers.)

    (AFAIK) Mesnage and Antoniou still have not released data from their own study claiming differences in RoundUp-ready maize, despite releasing the data being a condition of publishing in Scientific Reports, and researchers having asked for the data for over a year now. Their conclusions are considered by some to reflect contamination and technical issues—i.e. their conclusions are not correct. These concerns might be resolved by inspecting the data, but Mesnage and Antoniou haven’t (or won’t) release the data. I’m one of several who have been trying to gently encourage them to release the data. One of the authors is Séralini, and the source material is sourced from Séralini’s lab. For those not familiar with the Séralini name, saying he’s very ‘controversial’ in the glyphosate space would be polite (I’m pretty sure I’ve written about him earlier on Sciblogs, Alison might have too).

    — Seneff’s work is in natural language processing, computer algorithms ‘reading’ English, etc., texts and looking for patterns or conclusions in them. Natural language processing has it’s place, but not done as she does it. Her work fails under the very basic computer science caution, GIGO—garbage in: garbage out. Her input very obviously includes ‘dubious’ research papers. (Some say she’s drawing from internet pages, which, if true, would be even worse!)

    As a comparison there’s a reason good meta-analysis studies start with inclusion criteria of what papers to consider. (For example these are used to pull together many different clinical trials for a medical treatment into some overall conclusion.)

    There’s a long history of people telling MIT they ought to bring in fresh blood, i.e. move on past Seneff (myself included; the field itself is fine, and can stay). Some have suggested that one ‘catch’ to removing Seneff is that her husband has/had a senior position in the MIT institute she works at (CSAIL).

  • Yes, I had wondered that from their subtext. I thought it interesting to see them (& others also very obviously of Seneff’s overall persuasion) criticising her so heavily on this one.