WHO cancer agency to classify more pesticides

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 2, 2015 - The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization that recently categorized the herbicide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” plans to release its reviews of more pesticides used in agriculture this month.

During the first week of June, IARC is meeting to review a list of herbicides and insecticides, including 2,4-D. 

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The National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association expect IARC to classify 2,4-D as “probably carcinogenic,” a designation that “will only lead to more confusion and concern,” the groups said in a joint statement issued today.

“IARC creates confusion and unnecessary fear amongst the public by using narrowly-focused data removed from real-world situations to find almost everything that it reviews as potentially carcinogenic,” the corn and soybean groups stated.

In March, IARC categorized glyphosate - an herbicide used on millions of acres of commodity crops in the U.S. - as a Group 2A, “probably carcinogenic to humans,” agent. Group 2A is one rank higher than IARC's Group 2B, which indicates an agent is “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” and includes cell phones and coffee. Group 1 is the next highest category and denotes an agent is a known carcinogen.

Monsanto, which introduced the widely-used glyphosate herbicide Roundup in 1974, said IARC “received and purposefully disregarded” dozens of scientific studies that say the chemical is not a risk to human health.  

However, food safety and environmental groups asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “strongly weigh” IARC's classification of glyphosate in the agency's upcoming review of the herbicide.

In the same request to EPA, the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Environmental Working Group and others, also asked that the agency reconsider its registration of Dow AgroSciences' dual herbicide Enlist Duo, which is a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D.

Meanwhile, NCGA and ASA maintain that glyphosate and 2,4-D have been the subject of hundreds of scientific studies and regulatory reviews. 

“Government regulatory agencies charged with protection of public health in more than 100 countries have evaluated the science and concluded that 2,4-D and glyphosate do not increase health risks when used as directed,” the groups stated. “In fact, no government in the world considers them carcinogens.”

 

This story was revised on 6/3/2015. 

 

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