The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently published a report by the International Agency for Cancer Research which says that using gylphosate is “probably” linked to cancer. Should we be worried?
Glyphosate is the world’s most used herbicide, particularly to control weed growth before autumn crop sowing and in combination with GMO ‘Roundup Ready’ crops. Monsanto, the company which pioneered the development of glyphosate in the 1970s has repudiated the WHO report, questioning the quality of the assessment and saying:
“The WHO has something to explain”.
The studies cited in the WHO report point to carcinogenic links in animal studies, and some “limited evidence” that glyphosate exposure is associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and also DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells. The WHO report explains:
“Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations could not be ruled out.”
The IARC report also noted that when glyphosate was first assessed by the US EPA in 1985, it was found to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans” but that was retracted in 1991. The 2014-15 evaluations were performed by “panels of international experts, selected on the basis of their expertise and the absence of real or apparent conflicts of interest“.
Glyphosate use in the USA has more than doubled over the past 10 years. No country has yet moved to review use of glyphosate.
The WHO report said that the insecticides malathion and diazinon were also “probably carcinogenic to humans“.