EPA: Glyphosate Likely Not Carcinogenic

Agency Inadvertently Releases Report on Glyphosate Assessment

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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An October 2015 EPA study mistakenly posted to the agency's website Monday concludes the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup is not carcinogenic to humans. (Logo courtesy of EPA)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, according to a document inadvertently posted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website Monday.

Monsanto was quick to take advantage of the EPA error, issuing a press statement lauding the report which was completed in October 2015.

When contacted by DTN Monday evening, an EPA spokesperson said they were unsure why the report was posted -- calling it a "mistake." The document was described as the final report of a cancer assessment review committee (CARC) on the health effects of pesticides.

The CARC report had yet to be reviewed by a scientific advisory board. EPA said Monday the advisory board is slated to complete its review by year's end, when an EPA assessment is finalized or released.

"The CARC concluded that the epidemiological studies in humans showed no association between glyphosate exposure and cancer of the following: oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, colorectum, lung, pancreas, kidney, bladder, prostate, brain (gliomas), soft-tissue sarcoma, leukemia, or multiple myelomas," the report said.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC, in Lyon, France, assessed the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate in March 2015. The IARC concluded glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."

That conclusion prompted EPA to re-evaluate the herbicide's carcinogenic potential.

Though the assessment report has been made public, EPA said in a statement the agency will have more to say about glyphosate later this year.

"Preliminary glyphosate documents were inadvertently posted to the agency's docket," according to the EPA statement. "These documents have now been taken down because our assessment is not final.

"EPA has not completed our cancer review. We will look at the work of other governments as well as work by HHS's (Health and Human Services) Agricultural Health Study as we move to make a decision on glyphosate. Our assessment will be peer reviewed and completed by end of 2016."

EPA said it continues to work through "some important science issues" on glyphosate.

That includes a residues study of the chemical in human breast milk, in-depth human incidents and epidemiology evaluation, the IARC's cancer re-evaluation released in August 2015, and a preliminary analysis of glyphosate toxicity to milkweed which is a critical resource for the monarch butterfly.

"We hope to issue the draft cancer risk assessment for public comment later in 2016," EPA said. The agency currently is conducting a registration review of glyphosate as it does for many chemicals periodically.

Glyphosate is off-patent and sold by many agriculture companies. Monsanto developed glyphosate as the active ingredient in the company's herbicide Roundup.

Monsanto said in a press statement the EPA assessment released Monday supports what an ongoing body of research has revealed about glyphosate.

"No pesticide regulator in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen, and this conclusion by the U.S. EPA once again reinforces this important fact," said Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chairman and chief executive officer.

"Glyphosate has a 40-year history of safe and effective use. Unfortunately, last year's inconsistent classification by IARC generated unwarranted concern and confusion about this important agricultural tool. This rigorous assessment of the data by EPA builds on the sound conclusions of both the European and Canadian regulatory authorities and once again makes it clear that glyphosate does not cause cancer."

In addition to the IARC classification released last March, the European Food Safety Authority determined in November 2015 that glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans."

Also in 2015, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Authority concluded "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk."

Monsanto Monday took the occasion to point to what it says were flaws in the IARC's classification last year.

"The EPA, Canadian and European assessments all identified flaws with IARC's assessment," Monsanto said. "EPA's conclusion specifically notes that its assessment 'includes all of the studies (epidemiology and animals) reviewed by IARC as well as a subset of animal studies reported in a review article by Greim et al. (2015) but not reviewed by IARC.'

"Results from any further studies would not change the conclusion that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Among other flaws with the IARC assessment, EPA concluded, 'The inclusion of the positive findings from studies with known limitations, the lack of reproducible positive findings and the omission of the negative findings from reliable studies may have had a significant bearing on IARC's conclusion on the genotoxic potential of glyphosate.'"

Also this week, a number of environmental and other anti-pesticides advocacy groups are slated to deliver to EPA Wednesday a petition with some 400,000 signatures calling for the agency to cancel glyphosate's registration. Those groups include Leaders from Care2, Moms Across America, Friends of the Earth, Beyond Pesticides, CREDO, SumOfUs and the Organic Consumers Association.

Read the EPA assessment here: http://www.dtn.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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(GH/AG)

Todd Neeley