Glyphosate, a component of Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, has been used by farmers, as well as homeowners for years. Although glyphosate has long been tagged as an aid in the expansion of herbicide resistance, the chemical has never been called harmful to humans – until last week.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), at its monthly meeting, classified glyphosate as 2A, which is one step away from a Group 1 classification, “carcinogenic to humans.”
The announcement is a big shock on many levels, considering the scientific data that proves glyphosate is only harmful to weeds. The announcement has raised a ruckus. Neither scientific organizations nor Monsanto are sitting still. Claims that the decision to put glyphosate in this classification are not based on any new studies are coming from all levels.
One of the strongest challenges to the IARC statement comes from an article posted on the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), “IARC’s ruling on glyphosate ignores the science,” which points out that “the studies used by IARC are not new and in fact, these same studies have been reviewed in much more detail by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. EPA, the German Risk Agency (among others) who have concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”
Dr. Gil Ross of the ACSH commented in the article that, “We here at ACSH have been keen observers of the working of IARC over the years, and while this ruling is disappointing for anyone devoted to sound science as the basis of regulatory policy, no one should be surprised.
“This agency of the WHO/UN is among the worst of the hyper-regulators, and has developed a well-deserved reputation for breezing past or simply ignoring the latest (or even the consensus) science in the service of their precautionary principle-based agenda,” Ross said.
The Glyphosate Task Force (GTF), which Monsanto and a host of other major farm chemical companies are members, issued a statement calling for IARC to withdraw the classification of glyphosate as a Group 2A carcinogen.
“The studies not included in the IARC evaluation were generated using validated test methods in laboratories subjected to regular audit procedures, as prescribed by regulatory authorities and are of the highest quality, the GTF statement said. “They provide clear evidence that glyphosate does not have genotoxic or carcinogenic properties. On reviewing all of this available data, both published and unpublished, regulatory authorities have consistently concluded that glyphosate does not cause cancer in either animals or humans.”
In a statement from Monsanto, Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer said, “We are outraged with this assessment.”
“This conclusion is inconsistent with the decades of ongoing comprehensive safety reviews by the leading regulatory authorities around the world that have concluded that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health. This result was reached by selective ‘cherry picking’ of data and is a clear example of agenda-driven bias.”
Stay tuned. This is going to be interesting.