Hi, Emily. Glyphosate has a long and proven history of safe use. Glyphosate inhibits an enzyme that is essential to plant growth; this enzyme is not found in humans or other animals, contributing to the low risk to human health. Comprehensive toxicological studies in animals have demonstrated that glyphosate does not cause cancer, birth defects, DNA damage, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption or reproductive problems. The U.S. EPA and German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, which also recently reviewed glyphosate, have concluded glyphosate is not carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was the agency that classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen (this was also a review, not a new study). IARC evaluates and disseminates information on cancer risks through publications, meetings, courses and fellowships. Unlike regulatory reviews that take a comprehensive look at all available data over an extended period of time, IARC makes its conclusion on a limited data review during a meeting that lasts one week.
In terms of glyphosate in our food supply the mere presence of a chemical itself is not a human health hazard. It is the amount, or dose, that matters. In the United States, the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can be consumed and considered safe is set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Maximum amounts allowed (known as tolerances) are also established by the EPA for all pesticide residues on food commodities, like corn and soybeans. You can read more about this on the EPA’s website.
There are also a few issues to note about the IARC review:
- There is no new research or data. Each of the studies considered by IARC have been previously reviewed and considered by regulatory agencies – most recently by the German government on behalf of the European Union.
- Relevant, scientific data was excluded from review. IARC received and purposefully disregarded dozens of scientific studies – specifically genetic toxicity studies – that support the conclusion glyphosate is not a human health risk.
- The conclusion is not supported by scientific data. IARC’s classification is inconsistent with the numerous multi-year, comprehensive assessments conducted by hundreds of scientists from countries worldwide who are responsible for ensuring public safety.
- IARC’s classification does not establish a link between glyphosate and an increase in cancer. It’s important to put IARC’s classifications into perspective. IARC has classified numerous everyday items in Category 2 including coffee, cell phones, aloe vera extract and pickled vegetables, as well as professions such as a barber and fry cook.
We encourage you to learn more about IARC, our comments on their review of glyphosate, and what others are saying at http://monsanto.info/IARC.