Building plaque of the United States Environmental Protection Agency

Monsanto Mayhem

In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, to be a "probable carcinogen" (Class 2A).

December 27, 2016 | Source: | by Dr. Joseph Mercola

In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, to be a "probable carcinogen" (Class 2A).

This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with "convincing evidence" it can also cause cancer in animals.

Monsanto has maintained that the classification as a carcinogen is wrong and continues to tout glyphosate (and Roundup) as one of the safest pesticides on the planet. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meanwhile, has yet to take an official position regarding the virtually unchecked use of this poison on U.S. soil.

The EPA postponed — at the behest of the industry — a series of public meetings it intended to hold earlier this year to discuss glyphosate research, particularly that linking it to cancer. In December 2016, those meetings finally took place.

Will the EPA Side With Industry or Move to Protect Americans' Health?

More than 250,000 public comments were filed with the EPA prior to the glyphosate meetings, at which another 10-plus hours of in-person public commentary is expected from scientists, activists and industry giants.

"The exercise is academic by design, but powerful economic forces are hard at work hoping to influence the outcome," The Hill reported, adding:1

"An official regulatory nod to cancer concerns could be devastating to Monsanto's bottom line, not to mention its planned $66 billion merger with Bayer AG, as well as to other agrichemical companies that sell glyphosate products.

Monsanto is also facing more than three dozen lawsuits over glyphosate cancer concerns and needs EPA backing to defend against the court actions."

Already, in September 2016, the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs released its glyphosate issue paper to evaluate the chemical's carcinogenic potential,2 in which it proposed glyphosate was not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Many experts disagree, however, and have suggested glyphosate is not only a probable cause of cancer in humans but also a "likely cause."

In a review published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, a team of scientists thoroughly reviewed the research behind the IARC's ruling, noting an association between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was found based on available human evidence.3

Associations between the chemical and rare kidney tumors, genotoxicity and oxidative stress and even DNA damage in the blood of exposed humans were also revealed.

EPA Removed 'Anti-Industry' Scientist From Panel at Industry's Request

After the public commentary period and meetings end, a scientific advisory panel will get to work offering the EPA its best sound scientific advice on whether glyphosate poses a risk of cancer to humans. At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

But industry is working hard to ensure that any science not on their side is overlooked by their friends in high places. Biotech trade group CropLife America is one group worth watching. They've launched a "full-fledged assault" against the team of IARC scientists who determined glyphosate's carcinogenic status.

Not only is CropLife trying to get IARC's U.S. funding cut, but it's demanding the EPA reject IARC's classification of glyphosate and allow for its continued virtually unchecked use in the U.S. First they tried to convince the EPA to forgo the scientific meetings over glyphosate entirely.

When that didn't work (although they did succeed in getting the EPA to postpone the meetings for several months), they sent the EPA criteria to use in selecting their expert panel.

After the EPA panel was in place, they told the EPA to remove epidemiologist Peter Infante, doctor of public health, saying he was biased against the industry. The EPA complied, even though Infante denied the allegations, but gave no explanation as to why the expert consultant was removed.4

This, coupled with an earlier snafu in which the EPA posted, then promptly removed, a favorable glyphosate safety assessment, has left environmental and consumer groups doubtful that the EPA will uphold its mission to protect public health. Patty Lovera, assistant director of the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, told The Hill:5

"Their track record is awful … We don't want to throw in the towel entirely. We want to try to hold them to their mission. But there is clearly evidence of industry influence. They aren't doing anything to inspire confidence that they're taking a serious look at this."