The World Health Organization announced that an ingredient from in Monsanto MON +0.32%’s Roundup weed-killer, called glyphosate, is “probably carcinogenic.”
The WHO decision was made after consulting a study in The Lancet Oncology, which was posted on the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer website.
The research is offering a new look at the previous studies on the chemical exposure on people or lab animals. Despite the fact that the results are expected to raise consumer concerns, some, like the company which uses it, Monsanto, announced it’s an abusive decision. The company argues that no new data are inserted in the study, while previous research have all considered glyphosate relatively safe in the doses that humans are exposed to.
The research determines that there is “limited evidence” that glyphosate can be the cause of lung cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans. It adds there is “convincing evidence” that in the case of laboratory animals it can cause cancer. Among people who are exposed to the herbicide, who generally have traces of the compound in their urine and blood, there seems to be a small increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The report states: “Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the United States, Canada and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides.”
Monsanto said that the new report does not bring forward any new evidence. “We don’t know how WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer could come to a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the the other conclusions reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe,” said Philip Miller, Monsanto’s Vice President Global Regulatory Affairs.
Glyphosate had not been considered, either by the U.S. or European Union, as a risk to humans. In 2011, a report by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) reveald out that that “The World Health Organization, the European Union and the Environmental Protection Agency have extensively reviewed toxicological information about glyphosate and pronounced it to be of extremely low toxicity.” Glyphosate was also considered to have “low acute toxicity” by EPA.
The WHO’s new decision doesn’t come as a surprise for other people, who feel it a step in the right direction. Even Monsanto expected the unfavorable decision, the company’s officials said that “the Roundup business is expected to soften in 2015”, according to author and food industry analyst, Robyn O’Brien.
Image Source: The Guardian