Monsanto Company, manufacturer of Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide, expresses its demand for a retraction of a report by an international health organization linking the chief ingredient of its product, Roundup, to cancer.
In a statement made by the company on Tuesday stressed that the report, issued on Friday by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was bias or unfair and contradicts regulatory findings that the product’s chief ingredient, glyphosate, is safe when used as directed by its label.
Glyphosate or phosphonomethyl glysine, according to Wikipedia, is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds , especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses known to compete with commercial crops grown around the globe.
A scientific literature classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” a working group of the IARC, which is based in Lyon, France, had said, after its careful study of the said literature.
Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, uttered in an interview on Tuesday, “we question the quality of the assessment, the World Health Organization has something to explain.” Monsanto officials have asked for a meeting with members of WHO and IARC, and the vice-president reiterated that the company wants a retraction. A representative of the IARC was not readily available to give a remark on Tuesday.
Miller stressed that the IARC was provided with scientific data by the company to prove that glyphosate has no harmful effects, but the agency just ignored it. He added that, the IARC report should not affect the safety review of glyphosate currently under way by the Environmental Protection Agency. Being the proper agency who has the authority to limit or ban the use of glyphosate, Miller underscored that The EPA would do its share by looking into the WHO report as part of the review process.
Glyphosate has been introduced and brought to market in the ’70s and farmers have been using it ever since and then in increasing quantities when Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant crops in mid-1990s. These crops are genetically engineered which will enable farmers to eliminate the weeds without killing their crops. “Roundup Ready” corn, soybeans and other crops are known because of the ease with which farmers have been able to kill weeds. But weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, leading farmers to use more herbicide.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated agricultural use of glyphosate in 2012, the most recent year available, at more than 283 million pounds, up from 110 million pounds in 2002.
International regulatory bodies and the United States have supported the safety of glyphosate when used as directed, but the IARC report cited studies that raised concerns about glyphosate and the effects it could bring to ones health. Monsanto questioned the validity of such studies but critics said they gained attention.
Dave Schubert, head of the cellular neurobiology laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California stated, “there are a number of independent, published manuscripts that clearly indicate that glyphosate … can promote cancer and tumor growth.” “It should be banned,” he added.