Oct 23 2017

Glyphosate: WHO cancer agency edited out “non-carcinogenic” findings

LONDON – The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer.

Documents seen by Reuters show how a draft of a key section of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) assessment of glyphosate – a report that has prompted international disputes and multi-million-dollar lawsuits – underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was finalised and made public.

IARC, based in Lyon, France, wields huge influence as a semi-autonomous unit of the WHO, the United Nations health agency. It issued a report on its assessment of glyphosate – a key ingredient in Monsanto Corp’s top-selling weedkiller RoundUp – in March 2015. It ranked glyphosate a Group 2a carcinogen, a substance that probably causes cancer in people.

That conclusion was based on its experts’ view that there was “sufficient evidence” glyphosate causes cancer in animals and “limited evidence” it can do so in humans. The Group 2a classification has prompted mass litigation in the United States against Monsanto and could lead to a ban on glyphosate sales across the European Union from the start of next year.

The edits identified by Reuters occurred in the chapter of IARC’s review focusing on animal studies. This chapter was important in IARC’s assessment of glyphosate, since it was in animal studies that IARC decided there was “sufficient” evidence of carcinogenicity.

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