As WHO labels herbicide as ‘probably carcinogenic,’ Monsanto asks for closer review of data.
The safety of glyphosate—and the research on it—is under a microscope after the World Health Organization on Friday labeled the popular herbicide as “probably carcinogenic.”
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) based its decision on a recently published research review in The Lancet Oncology, which looked at five organophosphate pesticides, including glyphosate.
Monsanto, which uses glyphosate in its extensively used Roundup herbicide, disagreed strongly with the findings, asserting that the chemical has been approved as safe by regulatory agencies in the United States and the European Union.
“We are outraged with this assessment,” said Dr. Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto. “This conclusion is inconsistent with the decades of ongoing comprehensive safety reviewsby 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.”
“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,” said Dr. Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory affairs. “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.”
In a written statement, the St. Louis, Mo.-based company also took issue with the alarming-sounding nature of the “probably carcinogenic” label.
“IARC’s classification does not establish a link between glyphosate and an increase in cancer,” the company said. “It’s important to put IARC’s classifications into perspective. IARC has classified numerous everyday items in Category 2 including coffee, cell phones, aloe vera extract and pickled vegetables, as well as professions such as a barber and fry cook.”