The complainant, Richard Reeleder, objected to an interview with an opponent of the herbicide Glyphosate. He thought he was presented as a scientific expert when he was not, and that his comments went unchallenged. He thought it was alarmist and unbalanced.

This was one interview in ongoing coverage, but it raised the important question about what is a reasonable time to present balance.


You challenged the decision of the programmers of Information Morning in Fredericton to interview a critic on the use of the herbicide Glyphosate. You pointed out that there is also an article on the CBC News website based on the interview, which contains the same information you said is false. You thought that he was presented as someone qualified to speak to this matter and pointed out that he has done no research on the herbicide:

I carried out searches of the scientific literature using Google Scholar in Nov 2017. I did not find any scientific articles published by T. Vrain that involved herbicide toxicology or the toxicological effects of herbicides or pesticides on mammalian or human tissues or organs, nor do I find evidence of expertise in public health risk assessment. His work has been confined mainly to plant parasitic nematodes; he has no documented research experience or expertise in herbicide evaluation or in herbicide toxicology.

You thought the way his credentials were presented gave him a legitimacy to speak to this subject which he did not deserve. In fact, you challenged the justification of running the interview at all. You wanted it retracted. You also thought the staff at CBC News in Fredericton should be better trained in “scientific analysis, risk assessment and science reporting.”

You thought the interviewer should have challenged many of Dr. Vrain’s statements, and put them in a context that would counter what you consider an alarmist presentation about the toxicity of the herbicide. You pointed out that the interviewer provided no context when he stated that the product has been classified a “probable carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organization. You noted there was no context for what that meant, or how it was defined:

Although regarded as posing little or no risk to humans or the environment by regulatory agencies in Europe, Canada, and the United States, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (a body of the World Health Organization) concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was a ‘probable carcinogen’, placing it in the same category as red meat and working as a hair dresser … Exposure also matters; a product may be carcinogenic but if risk of exposure is very small, how concerned do we need to be?

You noted that the IARC came to this conclusion, despite the fact that most regulatory agencies in Canada, the United States and Europe have deemed there is little harm from its use. You also cited an investigative piece published by Reuters in October 2017 which called into question how the IARC made the “probable carcinogen” designation.

Continue reading this on the CBC website, where it was first published.