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Monsanto Says No Carcinogen In Herbicide Roundup

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Monsanto is one of the largest food producers and research facilities in the world, and it is vehemently denying recent accusations that its herbicide, Roundup, contains a carcinogenic ingredient.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently released a study showing a correlation between glyphosate and cancer. The group claimed that the herbicide can encourage the development of a form of immune system cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

"We are outraged with this assessment. This conclusion is inconsistent with the decades of ongoing comprehensive safety reviews by the leading regulatory authorities around the world that have concluded that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health. This result was reached by selective 'cherry picking' of data and is a clear example of agenda-driven bias," Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto, said.

The IARC operates under the directive of the World Health Organization and the United Nations. The company stressed in its statement that IARC is not a regulatory agency, and that safety of the product is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission, as well as other governmental bodies.

Monsanto is calling for IARC officials to issue a retraction of their report.

Roundup is the best-selling herbicide in the world. The chemical was first created in the 1970s and is now sold as a generic ingredient in several varieties of herbicides. Today, Roundup-ready crops, which are largely resistant to the presence of glyphosate, have been developed, allowing farmers to use greater quantities of the chemical over fewer applications to deal with other weeds in the same fields. However, weeds are developing resistance to the herbicide, forcing farmers to use ever-increasing quantities of the product.

The safety of glyphosate is currently being reviewed by the EPA, and that organization has already stated it will take the recent report from IARC into account in its assessment. Officials at Monsanto say the statement by the international board of scientists should not be considered by regulators. The EPA has the power to halt sales of the product if they deem it unsafe. Regulators there classified the chemical as carcinogenic in 1985, but that decision was reversed in 1991.

"IARC's work is not a study, and it references no new data or studies. Instead, IARC only looked at a limited number of existing studies. Respected agencies around the world have looked at the same studies, plus many more, and determined that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe," Fraley stated in a press release.

More than 283 million pounds of glyphosate was used in 2012, up 157 percent over 10 years.

The IARC warning about glyphosate was published in the British medical journal The Lancet Oncology, and the retort from the company was released on MarketWatch, a Web site directed toward financial investors.

Photo: Donna Cleveland | Flickr

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