After EPA meeting, scientists still divided on whether glyphosate causes cancer

Dive Brief:

  • Scientists remain divided on whether glyphosate causes cancer in humans after a four-day Environmental Protection Agency meeting of scientists, Agri-Pulse reported.
  • Some supported the EPA's latest conclusion that glyphosate, the world's most widely used herbicide, is "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans," while others said they had "suggestive" evidence of glyphosate's cancer-causing potential.
  • Experts have "urged EPA to figure out how it plans to use epidemiology to inform its risk assessments, an issue raised recently by CropLife America, which petitioned the agency Nov. 29 to postpone regulatory decisions informed by epidemiological studies until it has adopted concrete data quality standards," according to Agri-Pulse.

Dive Insight:

What the EPA decides about glyphosate will have a ripple effect across the industry. Monsanto is one obvious target, as the company is currently facing more than three dozen lawsuits over claims that glyphosate-based Roundup caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That's all while Monsanto is also attempting to merge with Bayer, a German chemicals and pharmaceutical giant.  

This decision will also affect how manufacturers and brands across the industry operate. Both the EPA and the European Union are reviewing their definitions of glyphosate, as well as its effects, to determine whether to set limits on the weed killer.

The EPA's final conclusions on glyphosate could also eventually trickle down to manufacturers — particularly their product labels. If the EPA or European Union sets limits on how much glyphosate residue can appear in a product, companies may have to update their labels to reflect the presence of too much glyphosate, depending on their ingredient lists.

Filed Under: Food Safety Policy Sustainability