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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Rounding Up the Evidence on the Safety of Glyphosate

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A recent study by Thongprakaisang et. al. published in Food and Chemical Toxicology suggested a connection between glyphosate and the growth of breast cancer via an “estrogen receptor signaling pathway.” Upon initial review, our scientists saw that the study findings were contradictory to the preponderance of evidence in the literature demonstrating glyphosate safety.  Because we take the stewardship of our products very seriously, we had a team of experts dig deeper into the study specifics as we do with all published studies relating to our products and technologies.

Here’s what we found.

First, while the title of the study sounds like glyphosate induces breast cancer, the study actually has nothing to do with inducing cancer at all.  The study was performed using what are called immortal T47D breast cancer cells, meaning the authors used already pre-existing cancer cells in vitro, or in a dish. The implications of the study are contradicted by a significant number of cell-based, or in vitro, studies as well as extensive animal (or in vivo) data reflecting real-world conditions.

Second, numerous peer-reviewed studies clearly demonstrate that glyphosate does not have the potential to be an estrogen active compound, nor does it bind to estrogen receptors. An analysis of the available literature by Williams et. al. published in 2012 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health states “the literature shows no solid evidence linking glyphosate exposure to adverse developmental or reproductive effects at environmentally realistic exposure concentrations.” This analysis includes several studies showing that “glyphosate did not demonstrate estrogenic activity.”

Finally, a review of the scientific literature published in 2012 in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology by Mink et. al. concludes that there is “no consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate.” The U.S. EPA classifies glyphosate as a compound that shows no evidence of carcinogenicity for humans.

At Monsanto, the safety of our products is our first priority; we have experts in related fields carefully reviewing every study very closely. Evaluating scientific studies and their real-life applications can be difficult. Consider these resources as well as this blog as you evaluate scientific studies.

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