Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Does Monsanto's Glyphosate Cause Cancer?

Health + Wellness

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less
Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less
A mostly empty 110 freeway toward downtown Los Angeles, California on April 28, 2020. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The shelter in place orders that brought clean skies to some of the world's most polluted cities and saw greenhouse gas emissions plummet were just a temporary relief that provided an illusory benefit to the long-term consequences of the climate crisis. According to new research, the COVID-19 lockdowns will have a "neglible" impact on global warming, as Newshub in New Zealand reported.

Read More Show Less
Centrosaurus apertus was a plant-eating, single-horned dinosaur that lived 76 to 77 million years ago. Sergey Krasovskiy / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Scientists have discovered and diagnosed the first instance of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and they did so by using modern medical techniques. They published their results earlier this week in The Lancet Oncology.

Read More Show Less
Parks keep people happy in times of global crisis, economic shutdown and public anger. NPS

By Joe Roman and Taylor Ricketts

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is the deepest and longest period of malaise in a dozen years. Our colleagues at the University of Vermont have concluded this by analyzing posts on Twitter. The Vermont Complex Systems Center studies 50 million tweets a day, scoring the "happiness" of people's words to monitor the national mood. That mood today is at its lowest point since 2008 when they started this project.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The ubiquity of guns and bullets poses environmental risks. Contaminants in bullets include lead, copper, zinc, antimony and mercury. gorancakmazovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she will attempt to dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA), arguing that years of corruption and mismanagement warrant the dissolution of the activist organization, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less