Glyphosate and cancer: controversy after statements by a senator

“Glyphosate is less carcinogenic than red meat”: the words of a senator, co-author of an expected report on the health agencies, on Monday prompted the reprobation of fellow parliamentarians, for whom they fall in his own personal opinion .

The parliamentary information report, consulted by AFP and which is to be officially published Thursday, does not give conclusions on the carcinogenic character or not of the famous herbicide, but draws up an inventory of the work of the health evaluation agencies and in France and in Europe.

“To the question + is glyphosate carcinogen +, the answer is no! It is less carcinogenic than meat or red meat that are not prohibited,” said Sunday at the Dispatch Midi Pierre Medevielle, centrist senator of Haute -Garonne and Vice-President of the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options (OPECST).

“This report, we give it to four parliamentarians, under the aegis of the OPECST whose members are all scientists.I do not see any reason why we should take our share of the collective hysteria caused by a molecule that is claimed to be that it is carcinogenic when in fact it is not, “he added.

Remarks that Cédric Villani, first vice-president of OPECST, regretted Monday on Franceinfo.

“I regret that Senator Medevielle, speaking prematurely and in a form that does not reflect the report, has helped to add fuel to the fire,” said MP LREM Essonne. “You will not read that in the report, because it has never been there, it is the conclusion that draws Pierre Medevielle personally.”

– “A useless buzz” –

This is “a useless buzz,” lamented MP LREM Anne Genetet, one of the four co-rapporteurs of the text.

The carcinogenicity or otherwise of glyphosate, “this is not the purpose of this report”, which starts from the case of the herbicide to “illustrate how two authorities (WHO and Efsa, ed) can reach conclusions different, “she told AFP.

“It is not the task of the OPECST to formulate an official scientific truth or to carry out research work itself,” Office officials Gérard Longuet and Cédric said in a statement on Monday. Villani.

The report, on the other hand, analyzes the health and environmental assessment procedures in France and Brussels over 150 pages, and puts forward a dozen recommendations to strengthen them.

On glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup produced by Monsanto agrochemical giant, the WHO Cancer Research Center (IARC) concluded that there is likely carcinogenicity (given limited evidence in humans and sufficient evidence in humans). animals). But the European evaluation agencies did not follow it.

“In the end, Efsa seems to have more requirements than IARC to highlight a significant link between cancer and glyphosate,” says the report. An assessment related to the fact that the Efsa includes a greater number of studies, retaining the toxicity assessments of the manufacturer when WHO is restricted to academic studies, explains Ms. Genetet.

– Data access –

“They did not work in the same way, they each have their reasoning (…), so they produce two opinions not comparable!”, Said Senator PCF Pierre Ouzoulias, another co-author.

Afterwards, “it all depends on the conception of the precautionary principle, and that's where the policy comes in,” adds the elected representative, favoring the reduction of phytosanitary measures.

For months, divergent assessments have prevented the EU from agreeing on the re-registration of glyphosate. At the end of 2017 a new authorization was granted for 5 years, France promising to do without it before – much to the chagrin of many farmers.

To improve evaluations, parliamentarians, who have conducted hearings for one year, advocate strengthening agencies, giving them more resources, including the ability to commission studies.

They recommend increasing communication to upstream citizens and opening access to the data that led to the assessments (unpublished data today).

They call for more “real-life monitoring of the effects” of substances, and over time.

The shock statements of the Senator of Haute-Garonne provoked the ire of NGOs, a few days after the revelations on the registration of elected officials and journalists for Monsanto. “Sowing doubt to save time is enough,” responded Foodwatch.

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