CropLife says IARC “hazard” herbicides classifications confuse regulators and consumers, distort science

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In March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), convened a one-week meeting in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity potential of five crop protection products. Three were classified as “possibly” and two as “probably” carcinogenic to humans, the most high profile of which was glyphosate. This month IARC assessed 2,4-D, DDT and lindane.

Notwithstanding our concerns about how the classifications were reached, the failure to spell out that IARC classifications are based purely on a hazard identification, not a risk assessment, has led to great confusion – and often misinformation – being propagated through the media to farmers, regulators, our stakeholders, the NGO community and the general public.

Industry critics have taken advantage of the confusion and are seeing the fruits of their campaigning – for example the Colombian and Bermudan governments have agreed to suspend certain uses of glyphosate, citing the IARC classification as a primary reason, while a German DIY chain has stopped stocking glyphosate products.

But to ban or restrict a product solely on the IARC classification is entirely baseless. Over the years IARC has generated hazard identification classifications on many everyday products, including coffee, Aloe Vera, talcum powder, and even cell phones. But there is no call to ban these products, just as we shouldn’t call to ban crop protection products on this basis.

CropLife International has therefore asked WHO Director General Margaret Chan to publicly clarify that IARC classifications do not look at risk, and therefore do not constitute a real and present danger to human health.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: IARC Does Not Assess Risk, Regulators Do