Two U.S. lawmakers want a U.N. cancer research agency to testify about the questionable methods its researchers used to determine a widely used pesticide “probably” causes cancer.
Republican Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona sent letters to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Wednesday asking the agency to answer questions about reports the agency edited data showing glyphosate causes health risks.
Separate letters to IARC Director Chris Wild from both congressmen said they are “concerned about the scientific integrity” of IARC’s “monograph” program, that assesses whether various substances can cause cancer. Recent reports show the agency’s 2015 study contains crucial edits made to bolster evidence that glyphosate could cause cancer in humans.
Smith and Biggs also express concerns IARC’s research methods are not transparent. In a second letter, they argue the agency’s assessment meetings, deliberations and drafts are not made public.
“It is an affront to scientific integrity to keep ‘confidential’ a scientific process that directly influences policy and individual taxpayers,” they wrote. Smith is the head of the powerful House Science Committee, and Biggs is the House’s Environment Subcommittee Chairman.
They added: “With United States’ taxpayer dollars funding (part of the monograph program), it is this (Science) Committee’s duty to ensure sound science and transparency within the agency.”
The requests come after reports show IARC scientists removed “multiple scientists” conclusions that their studies had found no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals.” The reports also note that scientists used animal testing to justify their conclusion.
“In each case, a negative conclusion about glyphosate leading to tumors was either deleted or replaced with a neutral or positive one,” Reuters reported in October about the 10 major changes made to IARC’s draft document.
Glyphosate is a key ingredient in the agri-business Monsanto’s widely-used pesticide Roundup. A group of 184 plaintiffs in California are suing Monsanto, citing the 2015 IARC report as proof that pesticides gave them cancer.
IARC’s study is the only major assessment to label glyphosate as carcinogenic to humans. The Environmental Protection Agency, European Food Safety Authority and the World Health Organization all reached opposite conclusions on the chemical.
Monsanto is fending off waves of lawsuits from people who claim they’re suffering from cancer because of their contact with the herbicide – many of the plaintiffs have used IARC’s findings to bolster their claims. The company is also trying to keep the pesticide off European lists of possibly carcinogenic chemicals.
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