Monsanto's Weedkiller Glyphosate Is Not a Carcinogen, Says E.U. Chemical Regulator

Joins European Food Safety Authority, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization


Rene Van Den Berg/Dreamstime

The European Chemical Agency's (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment has concluded that the available scientific evidence does not warrant classifyinig the weedkiller glyphosate "for specific target organ toxicity, or as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or for reproductive toxicity." Glyphosate is sold by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup. A wide variety of commodity crops have been enhanced using biotechnology to resist the herbicide enabling modern farmers to use it for weed control. Consequently, banning glyphosate has become a major goal of anti-GMO activists.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a part of the World Health Organization) ruled that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans. Notoriously, the IARC supposedly evaluates the weight of the evidence as to whether an agent is capable of causing cancer (technically called "hazard"), but it does not measure the likelihood that cancer will occur (technically called "risk") as a result of exposure to an agent. The ECHA also evaluated glyphosate on the basis of the "hazard" it might pose and, in contrast to the IARC, found that it is not a carcinogen. Why the difference? Well, perhaps because the IARC committee that evaluated glyphosate was headed by a long-time anti-pesticide activist.

The ECHA finding that glyhosate is not a carcinogen joins those of European Food Safety Authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, among others.

It's interesting that this ECHA finding comes out at the same as a judge reveals emails between EPA and Monsanto researchers as part of litigation in which some folks are suing Monsanto. They are claiming that their exposures of glyphosate is the cause of their non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Will keep readers posted if the trial lawyers turn up anything irregular.