On 20 March, the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans. This is just one step below the risk designation of ‘known carcinogen’. The European Unioin is currently in the process of assessing the IARC’s research and will re-evaluate glyphosate.
Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute who chaired the 17-member working group of the IARC that classified glyphosate as “probably” cancer-causing, says that the classification is appropriate based on current science. Blair also states that there have been hundreds of studies on glyphosate with concerns about the chemical growing over time and added that in its review the IARC group gave particular consideration to two major studies out of Sweden, one out of Canada and at least three in the US.
He stressed that the group did not classify glyphosate as definitely causing cancer:
“We looked at, ‘Is there evidence that glyphosate causes cancer?’ and the answer is ‘probably.’ That is different than yes… It is different than smoking and lung cancer. We don’t say smoking probably causes cancer. We say it does cause cancer. At one point we weren’t sure, but now we are.”
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which was primarily responsible $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenues in 2014. The herbicide is also used to support Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which comprise the vast bulk of the balance of its revenue stream. Unsurprisingly, Monsanto has wasted no time in trying to rubbish the WHO findings. The work of cancer specialists from 11 countries was speedily dismissed by Monsanto. In a press release, the company argued the findings are based on ‘junk’ science and cherry picking and are agenda driven.
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