by Daniel Goldstein, M.D.
FAAP, FACMT, FRCP(C), DABCP
Senior Science Fellow
Lead, Medical Sciences and Outreach
As a pediatrician, a father, and a Monsanto employee, nothing is more important to me than the safety of the products we sell, and so I want to respond to some recent advertisements designed to generate unwarranted fear and concern about the herbicide glyphosate.
Our products, including glyphosate-based herbicides, are designed to help farmers produce food for our growing world in a more sustainable way. Like other herbicides on the market, glyphosate is carefully evaluated by the U.S. EPA and numerous other regulatory agencies around the world. The conclusion of all these regulators is that glyphosate can be used safely when label instructions are followed. Let me speak directly: Glyphosate is not a carcinogen.
Part of my responsibility at Monsanto is to personally review the safety data on every product we offer to determine that the product can be used safely according to label instructions. That’s a responsibility I take extremely seriously, and I am very proud of our commitment to product safety.
Now, about these recent ads.
There is an ongoing political debate in Washington, D.C., about a bill known as the Safe & Affordable Food Labeling Act. Along with many other stakeholders, Monsanto is a member of a coalition that supports this legislation to provide a uniform national standard for labeling of foods that contain GMO ingredients. Groups opposed to this bill recently have been buying ads in Capitol Hill publications. Those ads are designed to evoke fear about common agricultural practices and tools, including glyphosate.
Specifically, the ads cite a recent classification of glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). (Interestingly, IARC also classifies working as a barber or working the night shift as “probable carcinogens.”) Here are the facts: the IARC classification of glyphosate is based on a limited and selective assessment of only a portion of the total data available on glyphosate. In fact, it contradicts the findings of regulatory agencies around the world, as well as three other World Health Organization (WHO) programs that have reviewed glyphosate. Quite simply, there is no credible evidence that glyphosate is a carcinogen.
But, that important context is absent from the politically motivated ads bought and paid for by activist groups. Instead, the ads suggest that the use of glyphosate on genetically modified (GM) crops is justification for mandatory labeling of foods that are made with GMO crops. This argument overlooks the fact that organic and conventional farmers use a variety of pesticides to control weeds, bugs and plant disease.
Food labels should provide consumers relevant, science-based and useful information. A mandatory GMO label on food products would not give consumers any information about whether a particular pesticide was used in the production of that food. Regardless of the farming method, however, it’s very important to understand that all registered pesticides in the United States are carefully evaluated by the EPA before they go on the market.
We encourage anyone with questions about glyphosate safety to learn more here. You can learn more about the Safe & Affordable Food Act here. Of course, we also welcome questions about glyphosate or other topics at Discover.Monsanto.com.