Quantcast
GMO

Does Monsanto's Glyphosate Cause Cancer?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has rejected the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a possible carcinogen, declaring that the active ingredient in Monsanto's widely used weedkiller Roundup, is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans."


However, the EFSA has made a very important admission in their report, as noted by Sustainable Pulse. Unlike the IARC, the Italy-based EFSA examined glyphosate alone, not glyphosate formulations.

The adverse health effects of the herbicide, therefore, could be related to reactions with "other constituents or 'co-formulants,'" the EFSA report said.

As Sustainable Pulse writes:

"A very important point is that glyphosate-based herbicides would not work well to kill weeds for farmers or gardeners without the addition of these extra additional chemicals known as adjuvants."

"However, the complete pesticide formulations as sold and used also contain additives (adjuvants), which increase the pest—or weedkilling activity of the pesticide. These complete formulations do not have to be tested in medium- and long-term tests—even though they are the substances to which farmers and citizens are exposed."

The EFSA provides independent scientific advice to the European Union and plays a key role in the authorization of thousands of products ending up in Europe's food chain, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, food additives and nanotech products, according to the Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit corporate lobbying research group.

Could the EFSA's conclusion in it latest report be influenced by larger players though? Sustainable Pulse suggests that "corruption" might be at hand. This video from the Corporate Europe Observatory alleges that Big Food corporations and biotech companies, including Monsanto, might have intimate ties with EFSA.

In March, the IARC (the World Heath Organization's cancer research arm) famously linked Monsanto's weedkiller to cancer. If the EFSA had a similar classification, it would mean that glyphosate would no longer be used.

The EFSA explained today why their conclusion differed from the IARC's:

This is because the EU and IARC take different approaches to the classification of chemicals. The EU scheme—assesses each individual chemical, and each marketed mixture separately. IARC assesses generic agents, including groups of related chemicals, as well as occupational or environmental exposure, and cultural or behavioural practices.

This is important because 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."

Interestingly, the EFSA has also, for the first time, proposed a maximum exposure on glyphosate. The maximum safe daily dose is recommended at 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

According to Reuters, "that means an 80-kg person could eat food containing 40 milligrams of glyphosate per day for the rest of their life."

Monsanto has vehemently denied glyphosate's link to cancer and has demanded a retraction of the IARC's report. Today, the agrotech giant also sent out this tweet touting the herbicide's benefits to farmers.

Glyphosate is the go-to weed killer for use on genetically engineered (or Roundup Ready) crops grown around the world. In the U.S., farmers sprayed 2.6 billion pounds of it on U.S. agricultural land between 1992 and 2012, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Since the IARC's classification, however, several communities have demanded bans, France has ceased sales of Roundup in garden centers, California's Environmental Protection Agency issued plans to list glyphosate as a possible carcinogen and a slew of lawsuits have been mounting against Monsanto. EcoWatch recently reported that personal injury law firms around the U.S. are gathering numerous plaintiffs to build “mass tort actions" alleging that exposure to the company's popular weedkiller has caused cancer in their clients.

Last month, a majority of the European Union officially "opted out" of growing genetically modified crops (GMOs) within their territories. These member states were targeting Monsanto's GMO maize, the only GMO crop approved for cultivation in the EU.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

World Peace Requires Access to Safe Water

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Food

How Your Personality Type Could Influence Your Food Choices

By Melissa Kravitz

"You are what you eat" may be one of the oldest sayings ever to be repeated around the dinner table, but can you also eat what you are?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A child rides his bicycle in an area affected by the Hurricane Maria passing in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on Oct. 5, 2017. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Hurricane Maria's Legacy: One Year Later

As Puerto Rico marked one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall yesterday, the Miami Herald this week ran extensive reports in English and Spanish on the island's continuing recovery.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
A foldable, biodegradable battery based on paper and bacteria. Seokheun Choi / Binghamton University, CC BY-ND

Could Paper Power the Next Generation of Devices?

By Seokheun Choi

It seems like every few months there's a new cellphone, laptop or tablet that is so exciting people line up around the block to get their hands on it. While the perpetual introduction of new, slightly more advanced electronics has made businesses like Apple hugely successful, the short shelf life of these electronics is bad for the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!