Photo of boy gardening to illustrate story about industry influence throws doubt on pesticide safety claim ahead of EU vote

Industry influence throws doubt on pesticide safety claim ahead of EU vote

A new ruling that glyphosate is probably not carcinogenic is at the centre of a row over industry influence on the scientific bodies charged with protecting people’s health.

The joint UN-WHO panel which said the chemical – widely used in farming and garden pesticides – probably doesn’t cause cancer is chaired by the vice-president of an institute which receives six-figure donations from the pesticides industry.

The news comes one day before an EU pesticides panel will rule on whether to approve glyphosate use for another nine years.

Alan Boobis, chair of the UN-WHO panel, is also vice-president of industry-funded lobby group International Life Science Institute (ILSI) Europe. The panel was co-chaired by Professor Angelo Moretto, a board member of ILSI’s Health and Environmental Services Institute.

In 2012, ILSI received a $500,000 donation from Monsanto and a $528,500 donation from the industry group Croplife International, which represents pesticides manufacturers Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta.

ClientEarth chemicals lawyer Vito Buonsante said: “There is a clear conflict of interest if the review of the safety of glyphosate is carried out by scientists who directly take money from industry and openly lobby for industry interests.”

Panel with no industry influence finds glyphosate “probably” carcinogenic

An earlier ruling by the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that glyphosate probably is carcinogenic, supporting the findings of many other independent scientific studies.

Vito said: “We should rely on the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer when making judgements about the dangers of chemicals and pesticides. They are independent and transparent and don’t accept anyone on their panel who has a conflict of interest.

“Similar to the European Food Safety Authority and its findings, the FAO/WHO panel doesn’t appear to meet the standards of transparency and independence from the chemicals and pesticides industry that is absolutely essential. This is a health issue which affects millions of people.

“We would argue for a precautionary approach to the use of glyphosate and we should therefore rely on the IARC findings until there is more certainty about the effects of glyphosate, because it is the most used pesticide in the history of mankind.”



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Cade Martin