Widely Used Herbicide Linked to Cancer

This article was written by Daniel Cressey and appeared in the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans.1 But the assessment, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups.

On 23 March, Robb Fraley, chief technology officer at the agrochemical company Monsanto in St Louis, Missouri, which sells much of the world’s glyphosate, accused the IARC of “cherry picking” data. “We are outraged with this assessment,” he said in a statement. Nature explains the controversy.

What does the IARC report say?

The IARC regularly reviews the carcinogenicity of industrial chemicals, foodstuffs and even jobs. On 20 March, a panel of international experts convened by the agency reported the findings of a review of five agricultural chemicals in a class known as organophosphates. A summary of the study was published in The Lancet Oncology1...