Senior IARC Scientist Defends His Research: Glyphosate Can Cause Cancer - Herbs Info

Senior IARC Scientist Defends His Research: Glyphosate Can Cause Cancer

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Senior IARC Scientist Defends His Research: Glyphosate Can Cause Cancer
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Despite the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s recent classification of glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic”, little has been done to curb its widespread use all over world. Roundup, whose main ingredient is glyphosate, is still the most widely-used herbicide in the world. A report by Benbrook in 2016 published in the Environmental Sciences Europe journal focused on the trends in glyphosate use worldwide and revealed very harrowing results.


With glyphosate being in the market for more than 42 years, its use has grown exponentially since 1995. The steady use of glyphosate from the 1970s to 1995 was marked by a dramatic increase from 1995 to 2014, from 12.5 million kilograms by volume to 36 million kilograms by the 2000s. Benbrooks reports that total use (agricultural and non-agricultural use) was 67 million kilograms in 1995, which rose more than 12-fold in 2014, or 826 million kilograms. [1]

After their statement last 2015 that glyphosate, a compound used in the herbicide Roundup, is a “probable human carcinogen” senior IARC scientist Kurt Straif said in an interview with Euronews that despite pressure from the chemical industry, the agency’s classification of the compound will stand. [2]



“We are the authority to classify cancer substances worldwide for the WHO, and it was then this other panel that looked at a very narrow angle of exposure from daily food, and then came up with the conclusion on how much of that may be safe or not.”

For years, the safety of glyphosate has been questioned and debated by agencies, activists and consumers, greatly concerned because Roundup is widely-used around the globe by farmers and homeowners. Many consumers have been urging the government to restrict or ban glyphosate-containing herbicides to protect the human and environmental health. [3]

But aside from restricting the use of glyphosate, the public also want a clear and firm answer on the health risks that it poses, since the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a review last May 2016 stating that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” and it is unlikely to have a destructive effect on cells’ genetic material. [4] This creates a confusion among consumers since their statements are opposing.

IARC’s Stand On Glyphosate’s Risks

The IARC classification of glyphosate means that exposure to chemicals containing this compound could lead to cancer. This classification was convened upon in 2015 and published in the same year, along with classifications of four other herbicides and insecticides. The weight of an IARC classification of glyphosate as a “probably human carcinogen” should have made waves but there have been many barriers in the way of banning this dangerous chemical.



Various studies on glyphosate were considered before the IARC released its official statement on the safety of this chemical. The IARC found that glyphosate caused DNA and chromosomal damage to human cells, which can lead to cancer. This was seen especially in the blood markers of humans who lived in places where glyphosate was sprayed nearby. In experimental animals, there was sufficient evidence of the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. [5]

Straif has only one thing to say regarding this matter. “I think it’s important to understand the literature that our assessment that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans still stands, and then you have to look at the other assessments for the specific scenarios, and that is not my authority to comment on these evaluations.”

The Reality Of Glyphosate Use

Today, the European Commission has extended glyphosate’s license until the end of 2017 – despite clear warnings made by the IARC. Roundup is still available worldwide and there are very few restrictions on its use. The limitations made by the EC in response to the controversy of extending glyphosate’s license are insignificant, made to appease the groups fighting against glyphosate: [6]

● Banning POE-tallowamine from products containing glyphosate (it is already being phased out of use, so manufacturers are not affected by this restriction)

● Obligating users to exercise caution in “pre-harvest uses” (this is not legally binding)

● “Minimizing” use in public areas like parks and playgrounds (again, not legally binding since the word minimizing can be interpreted differently since it does not mean “ban”)

As a consumer, you have to ask why this is possible when glyphosate increases human risk for cancer. Numerous reasons, unfounded as they may be, have been given – but mainly focus on the fact glyphosate exposure is too low for any actual increase in cancer risk. The studies included in the IARC classification beg to disagree.

Looking Into The Detox Project

Recently, “The Detox Project” has been gaining popularity because of its findings regarding human glyphosate exposure. The project is an ongoing project by scientists and activists from the University of California in San Francisco which encourages people to get their urine sample tested for the presence of glyphosate. The project’s initial results revealed that 93 percent of a sample size of 131 people had glyphosate in their urine, with children having the highest concentration, with 3.56 parts per billion compared to 3.09 parts per billion in adults. While these numbers do not mean that people with glyphosate in their bodies will get cancer, it certainly increases their risk compared to people who have not been exposed to glyphosate at all. [7]

As of now, scientists and activists are still pushing the petitions on banning the use of glyphosate especially now that it has been classified as a probably human carcinogen, while others have taken small steps to reduce use and exposure to the said herbicide. [2]

Ok, here’s the video:

Further Reading:

California’s Decision To List Glyphosate As Cancer-Causing Upheld By Courts

Fears As 93% Of Americans Tested Positive For Glyphosate And Children Found To Have The Highest Levels

Pay Up! Monsanto Found Guilty of Chemical Poisoning In France

References:

[1] Benbrook, C. (2016). Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. https://enveurope.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0

[2] “Glyphosate Can Cause Cancer”. http://www.euronews.com/2016/07/01/glyphosate-can-cause-cancer

[3] Gillam, C. 2016. Glyphosate ‘Revolution’ Growing – Consumers Want Answers. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/glyphosate-revolution-gro_b_10122764.html

[4] Kelland, K. 2016. U.N. experts find weed killer glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-who-glyphosate-idUSKCN0Y71HR

[5] International Agency for Research on Cancer (2015). ARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf

[6] European Commission Press Release Database. FAQs: Glyphosate. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-2012_en.htm

[7] The Detox Project. https://detoxproject.org/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-glyphosate-testing/


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