On Friday, the IARC said it had assessed five organophosphate pesticides and concluded that glyphosate and the insecticides malathion and diazinon were “probably carcinogenic to humans”, while the insecticides tetrachlorvinphos and parathion were “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
It did not conduct any new research, but said it had reviewed “studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001”, adding that there was also “convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals”.
However, Monsanto, which developed glyphosate (‘RoundUp’) for use with crops that have been genetically engineered to tolerate it, said it was baffled by the IARC’s statement as “there is no new research or data that was used; the most relevant, scientific data was excluded from review; the conclusion is not supported by scientific data; and there is no link between glyphosate and an increase in cancer when the full data set is included in a rigorous review”.
The dose makes the poison
It added that glyphosate - which was designed to replace harsher herbicides - does not present a health risk to humans even at levels of exposure significantly higher than those recorded: “We urge anyone who wants to know more about glyphosate to look at the conclusions reached by regulatory authorities in developed countries that rigorously consider all available data, published and unpublished, in a comprehensive evaluation.”
Dr. Philip Miller, VP Global Regulatory Affairs, said: “We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe. We have issued an urgent request for appropriate personnel of the WHO to sit down with the global glyphosate taskforces and other regulatory agencies to account for the scientific studies used in their analysis and, equally as important, to account for those scientific studies that were disregarded.”
Monsanto: We are outraged with this assessment
In a follow-up statement this morning, chief technology officer Dr. Robb Fraley said the St Louis-based firm was "outraged with this assessment".
He added: “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.”
The IARC's findings were inconsistent with those of two other WHO programs – the Core Assessment Group and the International Programme on Chemical Safety – which both concluded glyphosate is not carcinogenic, he added.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, however, said the IARC report should be “taken seriously by the Environmental Protection Agency, farmers, and industry”, adding: “Considering that farmers use millions of pounds of glyphosate each year, the EPA should ensure that the herbicide should be used in ways that do not endanger farmers, consumers, or farm animals.”
Click HERE to read the IARC statement.
Click HERE to read Monsanto's response in full.