IARC glyphosate study details published

The World Health Organisation cancer advisor's report monograph on glyphosate has been published.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published the Monograph on glyphosate, which stated the herbicide, which is approved for safe use in the EU, could be carinogenic.

Responses include one from the global body representing the plant science industry, CropLife International, which has issued the following statement in response.

CropLife International President and CEO Howard Minigh said: "We reiterate our comments made when IARC published its classifications of several crop protection products in March and June this year.

"IARC's remit is to identify the potential hazard of a product. However, it is the job of regulators to conduct risk assessments, taking into account hazard and exposure, to ensure that crop protection products are only approved for use when shown to be safe for humans and the environment. IARC clarifies this distinction in a Question and Answer document recently published on its website which states:

"The IARC Monographs Programme evaluates cancer hazards but not the risks associated with exposure.

"The world's most robust regulatory bodies - such as the European Union and the United States - conduct extensive reviews of crop protection products, based on multi-year testing to assess risk and risk management in real world conditions.

"Calls for regulatory action on crop protection products such as glyphosate, based on IARC's hazard identification, are therefore unfounded - risk assessments carried out by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) and by major regulatory agencies around the world remain valid in the absence of any significant new information.

"CropLife International has requested to meet with WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan and IARC Director Dr. Chris Wild to further discuss these issues and to better understand the process for selecting the products and the literature on which they base their classifications.

"Human health and responsible use of crop protection products is and must always be our highest priority. As an industry we take pride in the extreme rigor by which we assess our products, our detailed submissions to regulators and the subsequent confidence this gives to crop protection product users and the public at large - we do not want to see this process undermined.

Also in response, the Joint Glyphosate Task Force issued the following statement:

"IARC's process is not a risk assessment. In IARC's own words, 'The IARC Monographs Programme evaluates cancer hazards but not the risks associated with exposure.' This is a much more limited approach than the process used by regulatory agencies.  Additionally, in conducting its review, IARC selectively disregarded numerous scientific studies that support the conclusion by regulatory agencies that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.    

"For more than 40 years, glyphosate has been a valuable and effective weed-control tool for farmers, gardeners and other users.  As a result, glyphosate is one of the most carefully studied herbicides on the market.  Unfortunately, IARC's selective disregard of scientific data and vastly inconsistent classification have resulted in unnecessary concern and confusion.  For that reason, we reiterate our call on the WHO to clarify how IARC arrived at its conclusion."

The Joint Glyphosate Task Force, LLC (JGTF) is made up of over 20 members, all of whom possess a Glyphosate Technical registration in the United States and/or Canada.  These companies formed the JGTF in 2010 for the purpose of generating data in response to requirements from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).  All of the JGTF data submitted to both regulatory agencies was conducted as part of the re-evaluation of glyphosate, which was initiated by the US and Canada in 2009.

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