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WHO Report Finds Monsanto Roundup Weed Killer a Probable Cancer Risk

By , March 21st, 2015 | No Comments

WHO study finds Monsanto Roundup probably causes cancer
Monsanto Company is an American multinational agricultural corporation headquartered in Missouri. In 1974, the company invented glyphosate, the active ingredient of its herbicide, Roundup. In the mid-1990s, Monsanto introduced genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans, which were resistant to the effects Roundup. Now, Monsanto is considered to be the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered seeds, potentially over 90 percent of the market.

These “Roundup Ready crops” have dramatically increased the ability of farmers to destroy weeds, given that genetically engineered crops are resistant to the herbicide. As a report from Maggie Delano details, “An overwhelming majority of US soybean fields are Roundup Ready soybeans, or other forms of glyphosate resistant plants,” demonstrating the dramatic effect this technology has had on the agriculture business.

The near ubiquitous presence of Monsanto’s seeds, plants and herbicides, however, has led to calls for an end to its “near-dictatorial control over American agriculture.” Critics such as the Organic Consumers Association have said that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a “contamination of our food supply” and a source of “destruction of our environment.” They suggest consumers purchase organic foods.

Now, it seems that another organization is not impressed with the agricultural giant. In a report published Friday in the journal Lancet Oncology, various scientists and members of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the France-based division of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced there is “limited evidence” linking glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cancer in humans. However, there is “convincing evidence” that the chemical can cause cancer in lab animals.

Monsanto has already criticized and questioned the validity of this study. As Phillip Miller, Monsanto’s global regulatory affairs vice president said in a statement, “We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe…We have issued an urgent request for appropriate personnel of the WHO to sit down with the global glyphosate taskforces…to account for the scientific studies used in their analysis…[and] to account for those scientific studies that were disregarded.”

In their report, IARC/WHO officials wrote, “The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures…since 2001,” though the organization did admit that the risk of exposure to glycosphate among the general population is “low.”

The IARC report comes on the heals of recent legislature in Oregon and other states that might result in mandatory labeling of all genetically modified food as well as restrictions on planting genetically modified crops. Ultimately, this recent news, coupled with people’s increasing suspicions about genetically modified crops, might affect Monsanto’s revenue — all $15.9 billion of which is closely tied to glyphosate, though one would expect any effects to be minimal given Monsanto’s signifiant influence in agriculture.

(Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart)

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