Flawed science underlies European agency finding that Monsanto’s flagship product is not ”likely” carcinogen | Pesticide Action Network
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Flawed science underlies European agency finding that Monsanto’s flagship product is not ”likely” carcinogen

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Sara Knight, Pesticide Action Network, 415-625-9070 or sara@panna.org

November 12, 2015

With the European Union’s approval of glyphosate set to expire at the end of the year, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) today announced its determination that the herbicide glyphosate isn’t “likely” carcinogenic. This announcement comes in direct contrast with findings released earlier this year from the esteemed International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which concluded that glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp — is a probable carcinogen.

RoundUp is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the EU and around the world. In the U.S., more than 500 million additional pounds of glyphosate and other herbicides have been used on farmland since the introduction of Monsanto’s signature “RoundUp Ready” corn and soy crops.

Analysis of the EFSA conclusion by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany pointed out the use of “historical control data” to inappropriately dismiss significant differences in related studies. PAN North America joins PAN Germany, PAN Europe and other allies is calling on EFSA to re-evaluate the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate following proper protocol.

Emily Marquez, PhD, — staff scientist for PAN North America — said this about EFSA’s announcement today:

“The process of EFSA arriving at this conclusion is not clear — and challenges global scientific consensus that glyphosate poses a threat to human health. In the interests of transparency, the EFSA needs to clarify the reasons for using ‘historical control data’ to dismiss evidence that indicates significantly elevated incidences of tumors.

If historical control data had not been used, would EFSA’s conclusion have been different? Standard guidelines for chemical assessment stress that control groups within individual experiments are the most important consideration, not historical control data. This is where EFSA went wrong.

In contrast with EFSA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer considers groups of related chemicals, which accounts for the potential effects of inert and active ingredients. As exposure to glyphosate always occurs in the context of exposure to manufacturer formulations, IARC’s conclusions address real-world conditions under which exposure occurs. EFSA acknowledged the validity of the IARC analysis regarding glyphosate's carcinogenicity, and yet still concluded that ‘no hazard classification for carcinogenicity is warranted for glyphosate’ — without sufficiently supporting that determination.”