The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) earlier said that glyphosate, a key ingredient in a pesticide called Roundup, is most likely carcinogenic to humans.
Now, a panel of scientists hired by Monsanto has evaluated the WHO report and revealed that, contrary to the IARC’s findings, the ingredient glyphosate does not actually cause cancer.
The 16-member panel comprising of experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada reviewed scientific findings on cancer and glyphosate. They said the IARC’s findings suffered from significant weaknesses such as data choice, failure to utilize relevant information and failure to use specific evaluation forms that weigh evidence.
“None of the results from a very large database, using different methodologies, provides evidence of, or a potential mechanism for, human carcinogenesis,” said the group.
Keith Solomon, a toxicologist from the University of Guelph and a member of the panel, said the IARC depended heavily on studies of questionable merit.
The IARC report in March shocked experts as glyphosate is known as one of the safest and most studied pesticide ingredients worldwide. Epidemiologists and toxicologists slammed the conclusion in which they argued that the agency did not account for real world exposures to glyphosate.
However, Jennifer Sass, a scientist at the National Resources Defense Council, said the IARC’s aim was to score the cancer hazard.
“They’ve looked at all the data and they have really convincing evidence,” said Sass, adding that the current panel tried to take a good stack of evidence, hacked through it and try to kill it.
Meanwhile, glyphosate is currently the most widely-used ingredient in pesticide in the U.S., and it has driven Monsanto into success for the last two decades. Monsanto decided to make genetically-modified seeds that can withstand the pesticide. The agrochemical company currently faces pressure from makers of genetic glyphosate.
When the IARC report came out, lawsuits against Monsanto were filed. In September, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in California said it planned to put the glyphosate in the list of potential cancer-causing agents under the state’s law on toxic substances and safe drinking water.
The panel’s findings are also similar to that of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in November whichrevealed that glyphosate was unlikely to be carcinogenic.
Ten of the 16 members of the current scientific panel were consultants for Monsanto in the past. The panel was assembled in July by Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy.