EU chemical agency says weed killer glyphosate not carcinogenic

By Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell

HELSINKI, March 15 (Reuters) – Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, should not be classified as a substance causing cancer, the European Chemical Agency concluded on Wednesday, potentially paving the way for its licence renewal in the EU.

A transatlantic row over possible risks to human health has prompted investigations by congressional committees in the United States, and in Europe has forced a delay to a re-licensing decision for Monsanto’s big-selling Roundup weed killer.

Weighing in on the controversy, the EU body which regulates chemicals and biocides said it had considered extensive scientific data.

“This conclusion was based both on the human evidence and the weight of the evidence of all the animal studies reviewed,” Tim Bowmer, chairman of ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment, said in an online briefing.

The European Commission said it expected to restart talks with member states on re-approving the use of glyphosate in herbicides after receiving the formal opinion from ECHA, which is expected by August.

ADVERTISMENT

A decision would be taken within six months after that or by the end of 2017 at “at the latest”, a Commission spokesman said.

Pending the results of the study, the EU granted an 18-month extension last July of its approval for the weed killer after a proposal for full licence renewal met opposition from member states and campaign groups.

Accusing EU nations of hiding behind Brussels and failing to take an open stance on controversial issues such as glyphosate and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Commission also proposed changes to its decision-making process.

“It’s up to the Commission now,” said Jack de Bruijn, ECHA’s Director of Risk Management. “We are confident that indeed we have no issue at all in terms of the transparency and independence of this opinion.”

While the WHO’s cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classifies glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic”, many other government regulators, including the United States, see the weed killer as unlikely to pose a cancer risk to humans.

ADVERTISMENT

The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA), which has found that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”, welcomed ECHA’s opinion on Wednesday, as did lobby groups for farmers, who make wide use of products containing glyphosate.

But Greenpeace’s Franziska Achterberg said in a statement: “The data vastly exceeds what’s legally necessary for the EU to ban glyphosate, but ECHA has looked the other way.”

According to data published by IARC, glyphosate was registered in over 130 countries as of 2010 and is one of the world’s most heavily used weed killers.

Analysts have estimated that Monsanto could lose out on up to $100 million of sales if glyphosate were banned in Europe.

ADVERTISMENT

  • RobertWager

    One more to the list or regulatory agencies that have looked at and found glyphosate is not a carcinogen. That means every single regulatory agency in the world agrees. IARC is not a regulatory agency and they also found shiftwork an equal hazard (not risk). IARC cited some very dubious science Seralini et al seven times in their monograph. Reason enough to highly question their conclusions.

    • bufford54

      Agreed.

    • razorjack

      The IARC is a scientific organization. Both the ECHA and the EFSA are political organizations much like the EPA. Most of these bodies have been captured and corrupted by the industries they are supposed to be regulating.

      When I want the facts I’ll ask the scientists, not the politicians.

    • Debbie Owen

      The IARC is a leading cancer research agency with independent scientists from around the world, they are certainly more credible than any regulatory agency.

      • patzagame

        Absolutely,regulatory agencies are spoon fed industry studies.Sad that the populace thinks that these agencies actually conduct scientific studies!

      • RobertWager

        Wasn’t the head also working with PANNA? Does not sound very independent to me.

    • … More and more people are starting to look for answers AND the truth. And the truth is that this is a dangerous chemical.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      Agreed, That and the lack of a causative mechanism. As well as the 43 year long and excellent record of safe use. Should be enough to stifle all but the most dishonest critics.

      • razorjack

        Then there is all the science. I’ll stick with that and ignore the industry spin.

        • RobertWager

          Like this:

          Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 63 (2012) 440–452
          Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
          Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology
          journal homepage: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/yrtph

          Epidemiologic studies of glyphosate and cancer: A review
          Pamela J. Mink a,b,⇑, Jack S. Mandel c, Bonnielin K. Sceurman b,1, Jessica I. Lundin d
          a Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
          b Exponent Inc., 1150 Connecticut Ave., Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036, USA
          c Exponent Inc., 149 Commonwealth Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
          d Exponent Inc., 15375 Southeast 30th Place, Bellevue, WA 98007, USA
          a r t i c l e i n f o
          Article history:
          Received 3 July 2011
          Available online 7 June 2012
          Keywords:
          Cancer
          Glyphosate
          Herbicides
          Epidemiology
          a b s t r a c t
          The United States Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies around the world have
          registered glyphosate as a broad-spectrum herbicide for use on multiple food and non-food use crops.
          Glyphosate is widely considered by regulatory authorities and scientific bodies to have no carcinogenic
          potential, based primarily on results of carcinogenicity studies of rats and mice. To examine potential
          cancer risks in humans, we reviewed the epidemiologic literature to evaluate whether exposure to
          glyphosate is associated causally with cancer risk in humans. We also reviewed relevant methodological
          and biomonitoring studies of glyphosate. Seven cohort studies and fourteen case-control studies examined
          the association between glyphosate and one or more cancer outcomes. Our review found no consistent
          pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or
          children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate. Data from biomonitoring studies underscore
          the importance of exposure assessment in epidemiologic studies, and indicate that studies should
          incorporate not only duration and frequency of pesticide use, but also type of pesticide formulation.
          Because generic exposure assessments likely lead to exposure misclassification, it is recommended that
          exposure algorithms be validated with biomonitoring data.

          • razorjack

            That is another review of cherry picked studies that was done by an industry consulting company working for the benefit of the industry agenda.

          • RobertWager

            Then it should be easy for you to demonstrate this Ted? We await your evidence.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          Yep, all that science did was produce 43 years of safe use. I’ll stick with that.

          • ed

            There is certainly more profit in sticking with that fantastic delusion if your job has anything to do with Monsanto, chemo therapy, custom spraying, selling GMO’s or attempting to get a week away from your 10,000 plus acre mega farm in the summer. Money is a great motivator and will cause some to break from higher moral conduct and build rational around how it is in fact the opposite. It may not be the case here but historically it is most likely that it is.

          • richard

            Well said my friend!

      • patzagame

        Tell that to the farmers,and the families of Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma victims suing Monsanto.I guess they are all dishonest critics!

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          All the attorneys are, … dishonest. The plaintiffs are likely a mixture of greed and emotion.

          • patzagame

            Sure,EB…the attorneys are dishonest,the plaintiffs are greedy,and emotional because their love ones are dying from cancer due to exposure from a probable carcinogen, and Monty has an impeccable track record when it comes to their products. Is that about right?

          • RobertWager

            Lets compare things:

            One one side we have every toxicology expert organization in the world that has examined glyphosate ALL say it is not a carcinogen.

            On the other side we have one WHO program (other three disagree) headed by an anti-pesticide activist scientist who cited the most discredited “anti-gmo science” seven times and ignored many globally accepted research on glyphosate.

            Hmm who to believe?

          • richard

            I believe the consumer, because theyre the one financing these grand experiments on human health…. and ultimately its victims……While cubicle slaves and producers are obsessed by the subterfuge of insoluble toxicity claims, the public has seventy eight per cent declared they want neither the GMO tech or the ancillary agritoxins…..Thats the zeitgeist….get used to it cause it aint going away.

          • Peaceful Warrior

            … Every toxicology expert organization? …

          • Harold

            “Hmm who to believe?” Simple: neither one; you believe the code and data instead. You are referring to “preachers” of science, and not to Science. We have not publicly seen the code and data from each side to determine the Science. Further, there are not two sides to science and there is no conclusion to any study of science. Can scientists use the same code and data and ever be discredited? It is only a new code that discredits an old code. Explain how a scientist is discredited when by using the exact code and data, the results differ? What is the accepted procedure? Ignoring it? Discrediting it? Calling it anti-something? Furthermore, I do know where the money language comes from and I also know where actual science language comes from as well, and these have been the two sides, and the language used dictates the side that one is listening to. The Buzz words are the money language.
            Explain the nutritional properties of glyphosate when it enters the human body and then explain why I should consume it. Will your answer be: to give the farmers and the Chemical Corporation’s a break? Mmm whom to believe? An industry that claims that you are smart to eat it, or and industry that claims that you are not smart by eating it? I need neither ones opinion, but I know that the GM camp (activists) will exchange their nasty words for their kind forgiveness words if I do eat glyphosate. “Take one for the team”, as it were. Its what it is all about. Poor me, I get no gold star, ribbon or badge of approval.
            Are there any emotion police out there? (besides WP)

        • Denise

          There is no happy ending to this case but these brave families and farmers are doing the right thing.
          sustainablepulse.com/2017/3/17/us-congressman-calls-for-doj-investigation-into-epa-monsanto-glyphosate-collusion/#.WMwO5hSwkYW

    • patzagame

      The IARC does science,not regulation,shift work is a hazard … The IARC’s classifications hold true,if you have evidence to prove otherwise,cite a link,otherwise it’s just your allegations.Your claim of dubious science against a scientist with multiple peer reviewed published studies is reason enough to question you.

      • Jason

        … When science backs your beliefs, it’s called peer reviewed and trustworthy. When the same science disagrees with your beliefs, it’s “industry driven” and is most certainly wrong.

        LOL…. Make up your mind! Do you trust science or not?

  • razorjack

    Both ECHA and the EFSA are political organizations much like the EPA. Most of these bodies have been captured and corrupted by the industries they are supposed to be regulating.

    Monsanto’s own scientists told them Roundup/glyphosate caused cancer over 35 years ago. Instead of disclosing that fact, they colluded with the EPA who approved glyphosate over the objections of their own staff scientists and called the science “inconvenient” and hid the science away from other scientists, the courts, and the people as a trade secret while at the same time telling us it was safe.

    See the New York Times story:

    Monsanto Weed Killer Roundup Faces New Doubts on Safety in Unsealed Documents

    https://www(dot)nytimes(dot)com/2017/03/14/business/monsanto-roundup-safety-lawsuit(dot)html

    • RobertWager

      Yes another hit piece with information supplied by anti-GMO group. So is every national and international toxicology agency in the world that has looked at glyphosate and come to a safe conclusion all “corrupt” in your mind?

      • razorjack

        Nonsense.

        That is spin. …

  • Rob Bright

    One more to the list of industry-captured regulatory agencies that have looked at and found glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Industry spokespeople and propagandists … must be pleased as punch they have yet another fraudulent, pseudoscience-pushing regulator to quote for their quest to promote and defend the agrochemical/ biotech industry.

    (As if we didn’t know these alphabet regulators haven’t been colluding with industry for decades…)

    • RobertWager

      And your evidence?

  • When I saw “Chemical Agency” in the title I knew it had to be piece of non-factual propaganda.

    • RobertWager

      Oops that would be the European chemical watchdog organization. You really should look into their report.

      • razorjack

        It is a political organization that has been effected by the same corrupt forces as our captured and corrupted EPA.

  • patzagame

    $100 million,thats a lot of money to lose out on…imagine how many regulators you buy with that!

  • richard

    Is there something life enhancing about having glyphosate in the foodstream? Then why is it there? This just in…..”intelligent people dont want glyphosate in their food”…… Ignorant people and corporate apologists should be allowed to consume all they want…..survival of the fittest…. less mouths to feed….no more pretend food shortages……end of list.

  • Folks,

    Attacking the opinions of a fellow poster will not be tolerated.

    I’ve deleted a number of comments for violating this rule.

    It’s perfectly ok for you to feel otherwise, but EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion, no matter how strongly you may disagree with it.

    The rules in this forum are simple:

    – no foul language

    – no obviously libelous statements – you cannot accuse anyone, companies included, of a crime. How would you feel if such accusations were allowed when they are directed at you?

    – it’s ok to disagree, but keep it civil. Just because someone has a differing point of view does NOT invalidate their opinion.

    I continue to believe that healthy, even sometimes heated, discussion is the best path forward. Everyone is passionate about their beliefs.

    Please, let’s be respectful of others’ opinions.

    Cheers,
    Paul – WP web editor

    • Damo

      “It’s perfectly ok for you to feel otherwise, but EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion, no matter how strongly you may disagree with it.”

      It is your forum and your rules, but people should not use “it is my opinion” as defense of untruths.

    • Harold

      How do I “feel” about people attacking my opinions? How do I “feel” about libelous accusations directed at me? How do I “feel” about those disrespecting my opinion? The answer is equally as simple; to hell with my feelings. I am not a snowflake who makes others responsible for my poor little feelings. If there is a libelous statement which does in fact causes me undeniable monetary harm, I will leave it up to a Judge in a court of law to decide, and definitely not to the legal understandings of a WP editor. Notice how free the forum just became to say exactly what they want to me. I like it that way because I hate feigned soft meanings in place of their real meanings. I like to know the character of the person of whom I am corresponding with. I don’t want to correspond with the WP edited meanings: i want to correspond to the reader’s meanings no matter what they are. Of course I stand with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and you (WP) play by a very different set of rules. If your readers all decided to stand with the Charter freedom’s as well, in protest, your forum would become empty. For this fact, I believe that you could show a little more respect for the opinions of your readers. On a side note in reference to your “heated”; “heated” is when one party or both have stopped communicating and there is no path forward. Passion and heated are not the same, for through simple observations can attest to anyone. Again: when its to hell with my feelings, i can get along fine with anyone.

      • Hi Harold,

        Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts here.

        Just to be clear, the Charter has no power within the confines of this forum.

        This forum belongs to the WP and, as the WP’s representative tasked with moderating it, I am free to implement any rules the WP wishes me to put into force, period.

        The WP could, for example, choose to exclude anyone from Saskatchewan from commenting. Or we could choose to ban anyone who uses a particular colour of farm equipment. Obviously we would never do either of those things – but we could.

        My sense is that you feel many comments posted here are heavily edited, and I’d like to assure you that’s not the case.

        I cut out swear words, and I routinely remove comments like, “that’s a stupid idea,” or “use your brain,” or others in a similar vein.

        In every case like those mentioned above, I try to preserve the gist of the comment, removing only the offensive statements.

        Sometimes that’s not possible as posters choose to make entire comments of an offensive nature, such as, “That’s just ridiculous, what do you know about this subject?”

        In cases such as that, I simply – yes, “simply” because it’s a very easy call for me to make – hit the “delete” button.

        I hope that gives you a little more insight into my job moderating this forum.

        Please feel free to ask if you have any other questions regarding the moderation of this forum!

        Cheers,
        Paul – WP web editor

        • Harold

          I have always understood the rules and prerogatives that you have in place, and have also had portions of my comments deleted. When portions of my comments were deleted, I did realize whose roof that I had been standing under, and based upon your editing level, have also determined who you believe that your “guests” under your “roof” are. At one time in the past, you/WP said something to the tune of “daddy’s going to stop the car” and you likely did not realize how insulting that was to your adult readers. (you wouldn’t say that in a car full of adults) I can assure you that my “feelings” were not hurt, but that the image or character of the editor was. Further, when someone says to me “that’s a stupid Idea” or “use your brain” or “That’s just ridiculous, what do you know about this subject?” I simply do not let them off the hook so readily. I respond like an adult and say; “what is the smart idea and the facts”, “what part of the brain is not in use so that I can use it”, and “tell me what I don’t know about the subject”. I refuse to allow a subject to remain closed upon the will of the speaker, and “calling one out” to legitimize meaningless statements, (use your brain etc) prevents the repeating of them, and this is progressive. What is “heavily edited” in my view differs from your opinion. If everyone in society said to each other, to hell with your emotions and let’s stick to the facts, society would be much further ahead and more productive. We are pandering to emotions and creating snowflakes rather than adults, whereas one little emotion and we melt. This is “heavy editing”.
          Lastly, to be clear, I did not introduce the Canadian Charter to make a claim that unlawful actions were committed by the WP. The charter was introduced to show that It is by your reader/subscriber’s consent that you are permitted to have rules which ignore the Charter; this is also “heavy editing.”
          As I indicated, when readers/public withdraws their consent pursuant to the Charter, your “building” will empty and all of your rules made irrelevant. As I further pointed out, it is to the fact of given consent by your subscribers etc, that I suggested that the WP could show more respect to the author’s of the comments, and less pandering to the defense of people’s emotions. The Canadian Charter in free speech protects the author and speech from the censorship wants of the emotional, the criminal, and the liar. I don’t think this; I know this.
          I have lived long to see that the people of today are engaged in fisticuffs to protect their emotions and the emotions of others, rather than fisticuffs to protect themselves and the weaker from actual physical injury and harm. I have never seen “name calling” break a bone in the human body, but I have seen a “snowflake” needing “Meds” act like it did.
          Nonetheless, even in your “nice” response, I could have claimed the shelter of emotional victim-hood whereby believing that the WP is thinking of me; “that’s just ridiculous, what do you know about this subject? My response would have been identical in nature, but can you save me from my emotions had you said it either way?
          Thanks for “calling me out” and enabling my “pen to paper.”

  • Lots of peer reviewed science coming in pointing at glysophate as a cancer causing agent and why wouldn’t it? If glysophate kills weeds by inhibiting their uptake of minerals & metals then why wouldn’t it also do the same to people? A chelater of metals is a chelater of metals no matter how you look at it. No farmer can argue the point. Besides, every single farmer who has opened a bag of GMO seed is full liable and is says so in he 2017 TUG agreement the farmer signed: IN NO EVENT SHALL FGI OR ANY SELLER BE LIABLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.
    There you go…the farmer is the sole defendant in any future damages.
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/tugmonsantodev/29df7ef21797d48710bb0e653dbded0d.pdf

  • Denise

    You said it yourself one time, Neil. Farmers rely on glyphosate,too much. May I add that this also applies to other agrichemicals/pesticides,too.
    It’s hard to fathom why farmers think they need to blanket the Crops, Soil, and Seeds with these poisons,habitually,year after year. IS it because of fear tacts used by the Big Agri-chemical corps?
    Farmers complain about their returns flatlining while their input costs continue to go up and up.
    Maybe it would be better to deal with weed problems IF and WHEN they arise? The proactive measures taken to guard against pests and weeds are EXcessive and have gone too far.
    The machinery you have now makes farming so much easier. I don’t buy into the concept of zero till and chemical agriculture. It makes the ground hard and the soil lifeless ,in my opinion. You could never get away with that with a garden. The cost of fuel to break up that hard ground is more costly to the producer, too.
    If the Ag biotech industry and chemical corps hadn’t been so dishonest this “black and white” polarization would never would have happened. People hate to be deceived. And it makes people angry and suspicious of the whole method of producing food.
    The carbon footprint added by making ,hauling, and spreading massive amounts of chemicals on the land lacks common sense,as well.

    • Happy Farmer

      Denise,
      Farmers have always relied to on something, sometimes too much and sometimes too little. In the past we relied on tillage, sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not. So, “cides” are not much different.

      To say that we “blanket” our crops, soils and seeds is not necessarily true. Many of us are very careful to use only what is needed and where it is needed.

      I am a 3rd generation farmer. My grandfather started farming organically with tillage because that was all that was available to him. As fertilizer became available, he started using it. When chemicals began to appear, he started using them as well. I still remember some of his comments with regards to fertilizer and chemicals. He stated that it was much easier to farm and make more consistent profits with them. His opinion was that they where good for farmers.
      Growing up on our farm I was exposed to tillage farming with chemicals for weed control. We also had cattle. Our land was ok to work if there was adequate moisture. But a lack of moisture would make our land “almost like concrete’. If we started working to kill weeds we wound up with clods of dirt that would not break up unless we drove over them. The switch to zero-till on my farm has GREATLY IMPROVED the overall condition of my soil. Organic matter has doubled and PH levels are very stable. I use 50% less fuel now than with tillage. My machinery is lasting much longer now than with tillage. So you could say that my on farm carbon footprint is greatly reduced with zero-till.
      In my area I don’t see any possibility that an acre of land(in the long run), will ever produce the same amount of food under (organics, permaculture, regenerative) than it will under more modern practices. So as Neil stated, there should be a common ground based upon all types of farming practices, but they will vary from region to region.
      I don’t think that “Carbon Footprints” for food production will be substantially different in various farming practices. One way will use more before the farm, another will use more at the farm. People need to eat and people should be free to buy whatever type of food at whatever price they want to spend. I will be happy to produce a product that sells and makes me a profit.
      I repeat a past statement I’ve made to consumers: Buy what you want, we as farmers will produce it. But please stop spreading all the unsubstantiated stuff you are.
      ps. I don’t believe you have ever told me what you do for a living.