Agribusiness giant Monsanto is scrambling to respond to a report issued by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that cites the herbicide glyphosate as probably causing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Glyphosate is one of the primary ingredients in Monsanto’s blockbuster weed killer Roundup as well as other products the company sells.

Monsanto has started a full court press to push back on the report and issued a broad defense of the herbicide in a press release that claims “All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health and supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product.”

The caveat “labeled” may give the company some wiggle room but it is an otherwise expansive response that could haunt the company if further research backs up the IARC report – Monsanto is unequivocally saying its current products using glyphosate do not cause health problems.

Monsanto’s power could have already influenced the IARC as the report stops well short of claiming that the evidence shows there is a conclusive link between glyphosate and cancer despite there arguably being a case that it does. The reasons the IARC gave for stopping short of claiming a stronger connection between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma were that the study had limitations by focusing on working age men and not including young people or women.

But it is hard to believe the IARC did not know that it was going to face a serious response from an extremely powerful company for any claims about glyphosate having deleterious health effects given recent events. Monsanto is not the only agribusiness company in conflict with scientists over evidence related to the use of herbicides

Last year agribusiness giant Syngenta was revealed to be behind a discrediting campaign against scientist Tyrone Hayes after Hayes’ research showed that a herbicide Syngenta widely uses, atrazine, impeded sexual development in frogs. For scientists studying lucrative herbicides the stakes are high and they have to choose their language very carefully no matter what the evidence is.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.