Chemical reactions: Glyphosate and the politics of chemical safety

Publication

The Guardian

Author(s)

Patrick van Zwanenberg

Abstract

Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, hit the headlines in March after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that it is a “probable human carcinogen”. The IARC, which is responsible for providing an evidence base for the cancer control policies of the World Health Organisation and its members, had completed a year long review of the scientific literature on the herbicide. It found “convincing evidence” that glyphosate causes cancer in laboratory animals, “limited evidence” that it does so in agricultural workers, and evidence that it causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells.
The IARC’s evaluation is hugely important because it is sharply at odds with the views of the world’s major regulatory agencies. Last year, an evaluation by German government regulators, on behalf of the European Commission, concluded that there was no evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic or mutagenic, or that the herbicide posed any other serious hazard to health. All other regulatory agencies have reached similar conclusions.

Date

May 13, 2015

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