The pesticide glyphosate, sold by Monsanto in its Roundup weed killer product and widely used by landscape professionals, is unlikely to cause cancer in people, according to a new safety review by United Nations health, agriculture and food experts. In a statement likely to damage the claims of carcinogenic impact of glyphosate made by anti-pesticide activists, experts from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) said glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” exposed to it through food. Further, having reviewed the scientific evidence, the joint WHO/FAO committee also said glyphosate is unlikely to be genotoxic in humans. In other words, it is not likely to have a destructive effect on cells’ genetic material.
The conclusions appear to contradict a finding by the WHO’s Lyon-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which in March 2015 said glyphosate is “probably” able to cause cancer in humans and classified it as a ‘Group 2A’ carcinogen. This action has been used as a rallying cry by those seeking to ban glyphosate and other pesticides.
The WHO/FAO determination should help to ensure that on the advocacy front landscape professionals have another tool in their arsenal to successfully oppose proposed glyphosate bans at the state and local level. We will continue to work to educate decision makers at all levels of this important development.