A recently published analysis is raising new questions about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to declare glyphosate safe in 2017.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the most popular weed killer in the world.
In March 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review linked the herbicide to an increase risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
For its part, Monsanto vehemently denied glyphosate causes cancer and launched an aggressive campaign to undermine IARC’s review.
In 2017, the EPA declared glyphosate safe. However, according to an analysis published on January 14th in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Sciences Europe, the EPA and IARC took fundamentally different approaches to their glyphosate investigations.
“IARC’s evaluation relied heavily on studies capable of shedding light on the distribution of real-world exposures and genotoxicity risk in exposed human populations, while EPA’s evaluation placed little or no weight on such evidence,” wrote Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., the author of the new analysis.
By contrast, the EPA ignored that research and relied on studies paid for by Monsanto and other agribusinesses.
“The fact that the EPA relied largely on Monsanto’s own research to reach the conclusion glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer could be turned into a skit on The Daily Show,” s Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor for children’s environmental health at Environmental Working Group, said in statement issued yesterday. “Allowing a company like Monsanto, with a long and damaging history of deception, to influence the EPA’s assessment of its own product is outrageous.”
Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, is facing more than 10,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits in United Sates courts.
The first Monsanto Roundup trial concluded last August in San Francisco Superior Court, when the company was ordered to pay $289 million (later reduced to $78 million to comply with California’s limits on punitive awards) to a former groundskeeper with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
During the trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys presented internal emails and other documents they said proved Monsanto had unduly influenced the EPA glyphosate review, including ghostwriting studies used by the agency.
What’s more, the EPA’s own Office of Research and Development was concerned by the way the agency conducted the glyphosate review, as was the scientific advisory panel convened by the EPA to peer-review the evaluation.
Finally, the evidence presented during trial also included communications that suggested a close collaboration between EPA and Monsanto officials.