Glyphosate, a widely used herbicide, joined the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s list of things that “probably” cause cancer on Friday, March 20th.
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published an explanation of its report in The Lancet Oncology, which summarized the research it used to class glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.” Other agents with that classification include anabolic steroids and “shift work that involves circadian disruption.”
It didn’t take long for scientists to weigh in on IARC’s report, and many doubt glyphosate actually poses a risk of cancer to people — especially at the levels found in food or the water supply.
‘The evidence appears a bit thin’
Some scientists noted that the IARC report doesn’t contain any new research, and pointed to flaws in the studies the IARC chose to support its classification. They also noted that IARC looks at whether a substance has the potential to cause cancer, rather than the probability it will considering the way it’s used in the real world.
“For human epidemiological studies there are seven cohort and 14 case control studies [of glyphosate exposure], none of which support carcinogenicity,” Berry told Science Media Centre. (Berry is an industry consultant who also spoke on a Monsanto media briefing call.)
And those studies were in farm workers with occupational exposure, which would put them at high risk if glyphosate was in fact carcinogenic.
Kathryn Guyton, a senior toxicologist at the IARC and one of the authors of the report, told Nature News that the IARC is indeed selective: The panel considered studies published in peer-reviewed publications and government reports, and excluded those submitted by industry groups.
Read full, original article: Here’s what scientists think about the WHO saying Monsanto’s pesticide ‘probably causes cancer’