Christopher Wild is stepping down as director for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) after serving two five-year terms guiding the organization in conducting and coordinating research into the causes of cancer.
Reflecting on the past decade in office, Wild singled out the rare statement he made just last January attacking critics of IARC’s March 2015 classification of the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer) as a probable carcinogen.
“The agency has been subject to unprecedented, coordinated efforts to undermine the evaluation, the program and the organization,” the statement said. “These efforts have deliberately and repeatedly misrepresented the agency’s work. The attacks have largely originated from the agrochemical industry and associated media outlets.”
There were many factors leading up to Wild issuing the statement, he told The Guardian. For starters, the licensing for glyphosate was bitterly disputed last year by the European commission before the commission ultimately agreed to renew it despite a petition signed by 1.3 million EU residents calling for a ban on the chemical due to health concerns.
In the United States, lawsuits were growing by the day alleging glyphosate causes cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma. (In August, the first lawsuit against Monsanto went to trial, resulting in a $289 million verdict in favor of a school groundskeeper who blamed his terminal cancer diagnosis on his use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing products Roundup and Ranger Pro.)
IARC based its decision to classify glyphosate as a probable carcinogen based on animal studies, which Wild said, satisfied none of those with vested interests in the matter. “Obviously it’s a major commercial product particularly in relation to (genetically modified) crops,” he said. “At the same time there’s a very strong lobby against pesticides in general.”
Source: The Guardian