In the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, scientists have determined that the plant-killing chemical in RoundUp does not cause cancer.
It vindicates what maker Monsanto has been saying for years, and will likely negatively impact a class-action lawsuit against the agricultural giant and the European Union’s ban on glyphosate.
The massive long-term study – published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute – found that there was no association between the herbicide RoundUp and “and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including non-Hogkin Lymphoma (NHL) and its subtypes,” Reuters reports.
There was “some evidence” of “increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) among the highest exposed group”, but added this association was “not statistically significant.”
More than 180 plaintiffs are claiming that exposure to RoundUp gave them cancer – an allegation that Monsanto has vigorously denied. The findings will also influence a critical decision on whether or not glyphosate should be permitted for sale in the European Union next year.
The EU decision has been delayed for more than a year after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed glyphosate in 2015 and concluded it was “probably carcinogenic” to humans. Other bodies, such as the European Food Safety Authority, have concluded glyphosate is safe to use.
The research is part of a massive project known as the Agricultural Health Study, which has been tracking the health of tens of thousands of agricultural workers, farmers and their families in Iowa and North Carolina for about 25 years.
They have gathered data on the health of participants and their families and their use of pesticides, including glyphosate.
David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Britain’s Cambridge University who has no link to the research, said Thursday’s findings were from a “large and careful study” and showed “no significant relationship between glyphosate use and any cancer”.
He added that the possible association with AML “is no more than one would expect by chance” and was not a concern.
Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of strategy, said the study results clearly showed the weedkiller was safe.
“This is the largest study of agricultural workers in history, over the longest period of time,” he told Reuters. “It is the gold standard,… and it definitively demonstrates in a real-world environment that glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer.”
Use of glyphosate has soared in the United States and other parts of the world over the last two decades, after Monsanto introduced crops that were genetically engineered to be resistant to the chemical.
That meant crops like corn, soybeans and cotton could be sprayed with the herbicide after they emerged from the ground. During that time, the presence of glyphosate in human urine increased 500 percent, according to a recent study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But the question is: Does that increased level of glyphosate mean that one has a higher risk of cancer? And the answer appears to be “no.”
What do you think? Do you use RoundUp? Did you stop using it because you thought it caused cancer? Sound off below!