Men in New Brunswick have an exceptionally high rate of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The World Health Organization says that Glyphosate defoliant sprays, used “safely” on NB forests/fields/roadsides for decades, cause this rare cancer… Please read on to learn what valid science has uncovered about these herbicides…

August 3, 2015
Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians
transmitted by email from:

Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
HSBC Place, P. O. Box 5100
Fredericton, NB E3B 5G8
also transmitted by email to:

Re: Glyphosate-based Herbicides and Health/Environmental Concerns

Dear Dr. Eilish Cleary,

I am writing to ask for your opinion on the risks of the continued use of glyphosate herbicidal products. Under trade names such as Forza, Vantage Forestry, Vision, Vision Max, and Roundup, it is used widely in New Brunswick for:

  • forestry management, to promote cultivation of soft-wood trees;

  • clearing roadsides and hydro-lines;

  • agricultural purposes – at seeding time to prevent weed plants from competing with desired seedlings, and to dry off cereal crops at harvest time (by slightly killing them).

According to research recently released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), this broad-spectrum weedkiller is a probable carcinogen for human beings and animals. In an interview on CBC Radio, Dr. John McLaughlin, a Canadian environmental health epidemiologist who was a member of IARC’s glyphosate panel, explained that a wide range of qualified scientists took part in this “rock-solid”, “rigorous” and “transparent” research study. He also said that these scientists were pre-screened to ensure they had “no conflict of interest.” Dr. McLaughlin said a major reason for this reclassification is a clear association between workplace exposure and the incidence of “one rare cancer”: non-Hodgkins lymphoma. These findings caught my attention.


I live in a hunting, fishing, lumbering and farming community. Most of my neighbours are – like me – troubled by spraying of glyphosate in our forest, and on fields near people’s homes. After the reclassification was announced, I became very concerned about the health of the (predominantly) men who are exposed to these chemicals through their work, as well as neighbours who live near areas being sprayed. Sometimes it seems as if every second person in Kent County has cancer.

I went past “concerned” and “troubled” to alarmed, when I learned that the Public Health Agency of Canada has found an exceptionally high incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among men in New Brunswick, the same exact “rare” cancer that is correlated by the IARC/WHO panel with glyphosate pesticides.

The US non-profit group Beyond Pesticides reports that in 1985 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to classify glyphosate as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ based on tumors in laboratory animals. This group, Beyond Pesticides, has suggested that “industry influence” may account for the EPA rescinding this classification. After the EPA removed this warning with apparently no reason, the chemical became the most widely used herbicide in the US, and perhaps the world. The change was certainly lucrative for its manufacturer, Monsanto.


The decision to use these herbicides is not about jobs. There are more jobs in looking after our renewable forest resources using the old ways – like silviculture – that do not involve toxic chemicals on the environment that sustains us all. Use of these chemicals is about fattening the bottom line of corporations.

From what I have read, numerous scientifically rigourous and valid studies have concluded that glyphosate formulations are – for example – toxic to fish, a common contaminant in agricultural soil, genotoxic, an oxidative stressor, etc. 385 scientists from around the world have launched an online, Independent Scientists Manifesto on Glyphosate, which makes a “call” to “governments at all levels to ban the spraying of glyphosate herbicides.” Their advocacy “manifesto” says in part:

…“probable human carcinogen” is only a small part of the known toxicity of glyphosate herbicides. Chronic exposure to glyphosate herbicides is associated not only with cancers, but also with infertility, impotence, abortions, birth defects, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, immune reactions, an unnamed fatal kidney disease, chronic diarrhoea, autism and other ailments.

In addition to human diseases, glyphosate herbicides are linked to more than 40 new and re-emerging major crop diseases. They are causing irreparable harm to the entire food web; including the plant kingdom, beneficial microbes that supply nutrients to our crops and soils, fish and other aquatic life, amphibians, butterflies, bees, birds, mammals, and the human microbiome.”

Scientists are usually a reclusive and very cautious lot. Why are so many willing to stick their necks out on a controversial matter like this? This on its own is a huge warning signal. It seems clear they are driven by their professional ethics and this is the only way they can find to say these important things.

Also of great concern to me are the possible gastrointestinal impacts of widespread glyphosate herbicide use. In recent decades, we are seeing an epidemic of gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac symptoms/disease, “wheat belly,” Chrons, Colitis). Glyphosate is used in agriculture in two ways: to eliminate weed competition at planting time; and, to dry up cereal crops just before harvest (actually killing the crop to ripen it). A recent study in the United Kingdom found glyphosate in up to 30% of commercial bread samples. Because bread is a staple for almost everyone, and not everyone has access to organic grain products, the UK Soil Association is calling for an immediate ban on use of glyphosate sprays for wheat, both as a pre-harvest weed killer and to help the crop ripen faster.


It is not only humans who are at risk. Rod E. Cumberland is a wildlife biologist who retired from the provincial civil service in 2013. He has said, “’Herbicides kill hardwood trees and deer eat hardwood trees.” Over “roughly the same period of time” that glyphosate use has been widespread in our forests, “deer populations in New Brunswick have plummeted to fewer than 80,000 today, from well over 200,000.” Rod Cumberland speaks with authority, having been responsible for “managing” New Brunswick’s deer herds for over two decades.


The Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) has researched glyphosate sprays as part of their forest health protection mandate. CCNB is deeply concerned about the impact of this defoliant in regards to the integrity of the fauna of the endangered Acadian Forest as a whole, as well as forest wildlife, and humans who are exposed second-hand. Further, CCNB observes that New Brunswick is the only province that pays to have its forests sprayed with these chemicals” and “mechanical site preparation, planting and spraying of our public lands” can “exceed $1,000/ha.”

I work closely with Mi’kmaq environmental protectors in this Sikniktuk District of Mi’kma’ki. The Peace & Friendship Treaties do not discuss surrender of resources or land, so New Brunswick is unceded territory of the Wabanaki confederacy of First Peoples (which includes all of Mi’kma’ki), who signed these treaties. To the point: what is commonly called “Crown Land” should more legitimately be called “Shared Treaty Land.” The damage done to forest ecology with these chemicals is a major concern to Indigenous Peoples of this region, who “Aboriginal” rights to sustainable use of the forests for all future time.

Prior to sending you this communication, Dr. Cleary, I shared the contents with the members of the Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations) Consultation Delegation headquartered at Kopit Lodge in Elsipogtog First Nation. They asked me to let you know that they understand the way everything connects in the Forest: in fact the whole world is connected as one living being. They see all the damage done to the forest because they have knowledge of the forest handed down to them through the generations. It is not possible to justify poisoning the forest and all the beings that live there. No matter how “minimal” the danger might appear to scientists, it is unimaginable: there are no “acceptable risks” in this case. Further, they have never been consulted on whether this treatment of the forest is acceptable and can be accommodated by them.

The Government of New Brunswick just released “notice of intent” to spray these defoliants on 16,000 hectares of our forest beginning August 10, 2015. It seems simply wrong that our cash-strapped government is paying corporations to make us sick, all for the sake of corporations’ profits.

As of July 29/15, the Government of New Brunswick’s website still says that the World Health Organization (parent to the IARC panel) is not concerned about glyphosate herbicide formulations. The extremely influential J.D. Irving (JDI) corporation seems to be brushing-off this scientific finding. An April 1, 2015 CBC news story quotes Ms. Keith, spokesperson for JDI, saying IARC “provides no new scientific data to support their conclusion,” and “all national regulatory review bodies have classified glyphosate as unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk.”

Heath Canada recently concluded a review of glyphosate and concluded it was not unsafe. Rod Cumberland reviewed Health Canada’s study, commenting on its deficiencies, saying it: is limited to glyphosate only and excludes toxic adjuvants and emulsifiers also used in these herbicides; denies any residual impact of water, soil or food but recent research has concluded differently; and, most significantly, relies about 90% on older research, ignoring many papers published in the past 10 years which address issues such as those discussed above – especially cancer, and cell malformations in the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems.


Dr. Cleary, you wrote in 2012 that a huge question for public health officials is “what is the cost of being wrong about estimating risk?” You also wrote, “Public health decision making depends on… ethical principles” such as “beneficence and non-maleficence” and doing “what is good for the whole community, not just individuals” (under the law, “individuals” can be corporations or human beings). Please see the attached reference list: in view of the research I have been able to assemble, it seems to be time for invocation of the Precautionary Principle. I know I am asking you to step into a difficult situation but you must realize the population of this province has deep admiration for your professionalism. I look forward to your response. 

Very respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl
Spokesperson, Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians

Hotlinks to Sources for Information (in order of topics raised)

  1. Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (Lancet journal article about the IARC/WHO panel and their conclusions)

  2. Gylphosate: IARC MONOGRAPHS (some of their research findings)

  3. Threat to Human Health? (CBC) (Terry Seguin interviews Dr. John McLaughlin from IARC panel)

  4. Herbicide chemical glyphosate ‘probably carcinogenic,’ WHO agency finds (CBC)

  5. Cancer in Canada – An Epidemiologic Overview: A report based on the Cancer Incidence Atlas — Volume 2, 2000-2006 (February 2014; HP35-43/2014E-PDF; ISBN: 978-1-100-22759-7; page 19: “Significantly elevated rates were observed among… males in New Brunswick.”

  6. Glyphosate Classified Carcinogenic by International Cancer Agency, Group Calls on U.S. to End Herbicide’s Use and Advance Alternatives (Beyond Pesticides)

  7. Chemical Watch Factsheet: Glyphosate (Beyond Pesticides) (extensive literature review; addresses multiple issues including resistant weeds and general environmental toxicity)

  8. Independent Scientists’ Manifesto on Glyphosate

  9. Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells (abstract for article regarding impact on cells/DNA).

  10. Phase-out Herbicides (CCNB)

  11. Tracy Glynn on herbicide use in our Crown forest (CCNB)

  12. Cancer classification warrants phase-out of widely-used herbicide (CCNB)

  13. What you need to know about what’s sprayed on our forests (CCNB)

  14. Glyphosate in our food: Carcinogenic Glyphosate Linked to DNA Damage, as Residues Are Found in Bread (Beyond Pesticides)

  15. Over 60% of breads sold in the UK contain pesticide residues, tests show. (The Guardian)

  16. UK Soil Association calls for ban on Glyphosate: the world’s most widely sold weedkiller

  17. Rod Cumberland, deer biologist, responds to J.D. Irving on herbicides and deer (several relevant links about forest ecology issues on this page)

  18. GLYPHOSATE OVERVIEW (comprehensive literature review focussed on agricultural uses; including toxicity throughout the environment and gastrointestical issues in humans)

  19. A Former GMO Scientist Sends An Open Letter to Canada’s Minister of Health (addresses toxicity factors in agricultural uses, including issues arising such as food allergies)

  20. Be informed about herbicides (GNB – “not harmful”, “do not cause cancer” etc.)

  21. ISSUES: Shooting down Health Canada’s re-assessment of glyphosate.
    (Dr. Rod Cumberland; an email to all NB MLA’s critiqueing Health Canada’s re-assessment of glyphosate; 2015)

  22. Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2015-01, Glyphosate (possible relabelling)

  23. Crown Land Herbicide Program (2015 spray season notice)

  24. Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (2012) (pgs 14-15: “Public Health Ethical Considerations”)


Sources/credits for Images used in this post:

protest in moncton:
decimated forest:
ain’t salad dressing:
original art work (habitat x 2, moncton protest) by the AAAA+ (amazing Acadian airbrush artist) Gerry LeBlanc:
no safe sprays:

1 thought on “Men in New Brunswick have an exceptionally high rate of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The World Health Organization says that Glyphosate defoliant sprays, used “safely” on NB forests/fields/roadsides for decades, cause this rare cancer… Please read on to learn what valid science has uncovered about these herbicides…

  1. Wow–amazing letter Ann!

    Doesn’t Conservative MP Keith Ashfield have this disease (non-hodgkins lymphoma)? Wouldn’t that be ironic for a former Minister of Natural Resources to have a disease exacerbated/caused by a substance he championed while in office?

    In any event, I look forward to Dr. Cleary’s response. Hopefully she isn’t sacked first!

    Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
    Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.


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