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WHO study concludes that glyphosate may cause cancer

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has recently classified the pesticide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. HEAL and several other public interest groups believe this should prompt a rethink of the EU’s authorisation of this substance.

IARC evaluated five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides and classified glyphosate, malathion and diazinon as ‘probably carcinogenic’ to humans (Group 2A). It said that there was ‘limited evidence’ that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system. There was also convincing evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer in laboratory animals.

Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in Europe. The weed killer has been detected in food, water and in the air after it has been sprayed, according to the report from IARC. The scientists say that the agricultural use of glyphosate has increased sharply since the development of crops that have been genetically modified to make them resistant to glyphosate. HEAL, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network Europe and Alliance for Cancer Prevention have written to EU Health Commissioner Andriukaitis and asked him to suspend, as a precautionary measure, the EU approval of glyphosate for uses for which the potential for public and worker exposure is particularly high.

More information

- Guardian article, 21 March 2015

- French cancer leagues call for ban on five pesticides In response to the recent classification, the French Cancer League (La Ligue nationale contre le cancer) issued a statement on 1 April, calling on the French government to ban the five pesticides included in the IARC classification as soon as possible. The French Cancer League has 700,000 members.

The cancer league has also issued statements previously on BPA and and certain REACH issues, and cofunds a large French epidemiological research project called AGRICAN, which is based on a cohort of 180,000 professionals from the agricultural sector.

To read the statement, press release and find out more about their work, see (in French) here

Originally posted on 9 April 2015

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