Latest UN report says glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer

Just ahead of the latest EU vote on the approval of glyphosate, UN scientists have said that the herbicide is ‘unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.’

The finding comes from the UN’s Joint Meeting on Pesticides Residues (JMPR) and contradicts an opinion from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) specialist cancer research agency IARC, which classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ last year. The JMPR included experts from the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

According to JMPR scientists, ‘Overall, there is some evidence of a positive association between glyphosate exposure and risk of NHL [Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system],’ but pointed out that results of the only large-scale study showed no link. Most of the evidence for a link to cancer comes from some, but not all, studies on rodents: ‘In view of the absence of carcinogenic potential in rodents at human-relevant doses and the absence of genotoxicity by the oral route in mammals, and considering the epidemiological evidence from occupational exposures, the meeting concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.’ Glyphosate is also ‘unlikely to be genotoxic at anticipated dietary exposures.’

The group recommended that the acceptable daily intake limit (ADI) for glyphosate should remain at 0-1mg per kilo of body weight, the current level. Last year’s recommendation by EFSA to increase the glyphosate residue threshold from 0.3mg to 0.5 mg/kg is still within these limits.

Photo credit: 123RF – Hans Slegers

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