New research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week found no link between exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Roundup, and an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) and its subtypes.
“Glyphosate was not statistically significantly associated with cancer at any site,” the research summary said, even though “some evidence” of increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) was noted.
The research was part of the Agricultural Health Study, a larger study following tens of thousands of agricultural workers, families, and farmers in Iowa and North Carolina since the early 1990s.
David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Britain’s Cambridge University who has no link to the research, told Reuters the research is part of a “large and careful study” and showed “no significant relationship between glyphosate use and any cancer,” noting specifically the link to AML “is no more than one would expect by chance.”
“The findings are likely to impact legal proceedings in the United States against Monsanto, in which more than 180 plaintiffs are claiming exposure to RoundUp gave them cancer – allegations that Monsanto denies,” Reuters noted on Thursday.
The news may also impact a decision expected in the EU by the end of the year as to whether or not the herbicide’s license should be renewed. The EU has taken strong action against glyphosate in recent years, moving to an extended ban of the herbicide most often used on resistant Monsanto engineered seeds like corn and soy.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic,” which led to the EU’s efforts to minimize its use in member countries, and it also led to California adding it to Prop 65, which requires blatant labeling of any chemical known to cause cancer.
Monsanto responded to the results, telling Reuters the research clearly indicates glyphosate’s safety.
“This is the largest study of agricultural workers in history, over the longest period of time,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of strategy, told Reuters. “It is the gold standard,… and it definitively demonstrates in a real-world environment that glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer.”