Public health officials in Perth have joined Cancer Council Australia’s push for a new investigation into glyphosate, the key ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. The move comes just two months after a United States jury slapped Monsanto with $289 million in damages after finding that the company’s Roundup contributed to a school groundskeeper’s terminal blood cancer.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” based in part on evidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnoses in humans exposed to the chemical mostly from agricultural means in the United States, Canada and Sweden since 2001.
The Cancer Council is expressing doubts over the independence and transparency of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which is primarily funded by the companies it regulates. The Authority has not formally reviewed glyphosate since 1995, but conducted a scientific evaluation of the IARC report in 2016 and determined that a formal review was not necessary as the group felt Roundup was safe if used according to label instructions.
Despite the cancer concerns, Monsanto has maintained that its herbicides are safe and has refused to include warnings on the labels of its products.
Monsanto introduced Roundup four decades ago. It has since become the most used weed killer in the world among farmers and landscapers. It is also popular with groundskeepers and home gardeners. Monsanto made nearly $4.76 billion in sales and $1.9 billion in gross profits in 2015. The company was recently acquired by Bayer AG.