Monsanto's Roundup Weedkiller Herbicide Likely a Carcinogen, WHO Finds

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, is likely a carcinogen, finds new research by the World Health Organization and published in the recent issue of the journal Lancet Oncology.

The decision to label glyphosate as a likely carcinogen came via the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research center of the World Health Organization based in France.

IARC has four risk levels for potential carcinogens: those that are known carcinogens, probable or possible carcinogens, those not classifiable, and those not likely not carcinogens. The new findings put glyphosate in the second level of concern, alongside anabolic steroids and shift work, reports the Huffington Post. “The new classification is aimed mainly at industrial use of glyphosate. Its use by home gardeners is not considered a risk.”

"I don't think home use is the issue," said Kate Guyton of IARC. "It's agricultural use that will have the biggest impact. For the moment, it's just something for people to be conscious of."

According to the French agency, glyphosate is used in “more than 750 different herbicide products and its use has been detected in the air during spraying, in water and in food,” reports the Huffington Post. “Experts said there was ‘limited evidence’ in humans that the herbicide can cause non-Hodgkins lymphoma and there is convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause other forms of cancer in rats and mice. IARC's panel said glyphosate has been found in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, showing the chemical has been absorbed by the body.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will consider the findings by IARC, and whether or not to adjust regulations for use of the herbicide in the U.S. Glyphosate is used in tandem with Monsanto’s genetically modified crops. "All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health," said Monsanto's Phil Miller, global head of regulatory and government affairs, in a statement.

Image: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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