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Daily News Blog

20
Sep

European Regulators Lifted Language from Monsanto in Concluding that Glyphosate (Roundup) is Not Carcinogenic

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2017) The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) copied dozens of pages from a Monsanto study in reaching its conclusion that glyphosate (Roundup) is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans,” according to recent report in The Guardian. EFSA’s recommendation is supposed to provide an independent analysis for European Union (EU) member states, which are deciding whether to approve the chemical. However, the scandal is raising new questions over the multinational chemical industry’s influence over the upcoming November vote. Late last month, French officials indicated they will vote against the reauthorization of glyphosate in the EU.

EFSA’s recommendation on glyphosate, known as its renewal assessment report (RAR), was released in 2015. EFSA’s RAR was released eight months after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from laboratory studies. At the time of the release, Beyond Pesticides and other watchdog groups noted that EFSA’s RAR only evaluated technical grade glyphosate, and not formulated glyphosate products, such as Roundup, which have inert ingredients that increase the overall toxicity of the product. EFSA indicated as much in the RAR, suggesting that the “toxicity of the formulations should be considered further.” And that, “…although some studies suggest that certain glyphosate-based formulations may be genotoxic (i.e., damaging to DNA), others that look solely at the active substance glyphosate do not show this effect. It is likely, therefore, that the genotoxic effects observed in some glyphosate-based formulations are related to the other constituents or ‘co-formulants.’”

Given that most glyphosate applications to gardens, landscapes, and farm fields use formulated products, such as Roundup, it is difficult to set aside these safety implications when considering classifications over carcinogenicity. However, The Guardian’s recent reporting adds another layer of uncertainty to EFSA’s RAR, as dozens of pages appear to be copied verbatim from an industry funded report produced by a Monsanto backed group known as the Glyphosate Task Force. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a similar approach aimed at influencing independent evaluators was undertaken by Monsanto shortly after IARC’s 2015 determination. In that case, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment released a report that drew almost solely on data provided by the Glyphosate Task Force.

A Monsanto spokesperson indicated to The Guardian that EFSA allowed the RAR report to be written the way it was because of the large number of studies that needed to be assessed.

This is not the first regulatory body that Monsanto has sought to influence over glyphosate’s cancer classification. In the U.S. the company is being criminally investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General over potential collusion between the company and top level EPA official Jess Rowland. Documents released in the discovery process over a lawsuit filed by cancer victims that link their illness to glyphosate exposure uncovered the collusion. The documents reveal that Deputy Division Director for the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Jess Rowland alerted Monsanto to the IARC determination months before its publication. This allowed Monsanto ample time to formulate a public relations campaign calling into question the integrity of IARC scientists.

However, despite Monsanto’s continued efforts to denigrate the international body, states and localities in the U.S. are taking action to restrict carcinogenic Roundup use. In California, the company failed to stop glyphosate from being listed under Prop 65, chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. And hundreds of local communities are taking action to eliminate glyphosate and other toxic synthetic pesticides from being used in their public spaces.

While pressure continues to mount in the EU to stop the reauthorization of glyphosate products, a transition away from chemical use in the US will require grassroots advocacy. Start your own local movement to stop toxic pesticide use in your community by arming yourself with the latest science on toxic chemicals and their alternatives, building a coalition of concerned residents, and taking your concerns to elected officials. Contact Beyond Pesticides at [email protected] or 202-543-5450 for assistance.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.                                  

Source: The Guardian

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