WHO Cherry-Picked Data on Pesticide, Investigation Finds

A group evaluating glyphosate’s cancer risk omitted evidence that the chemical is not carcinogenic.

By Ashley P. Taylor | October 22, 2017

PIXABAY, SBJ04769Update (October 26): In a statement published October 24, the IARC “rejects these false claims” that it cherry-picked data on glyphosate. IARC explains that the differences between the draft document and the report center around a review paper coauthored by a Monsanto scientist: “. . . the Working Group considered that the review article did not provide adequate information for independent evaluation of the conclusions reached by the Monsanto scientist and other authors; consequently, the draft was revised, and the text in the published Monograph is the consensus opinion of the Working Group.”

IARC stands behind its conclusions.

In writing a report about the cancer risk of glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, the World Health Organization (WHO) edited out references to evidence that the pesticide does not cause cancer in animals, Reuters reports in a story published yesterday (October 19).

The original WHO report, issued in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a semiautonomous group within the WHO, concluded that glyphosate was a “Group 2a carcinogen, a substance that probably causes cancer in people,” according to Reuters. An investigation by Reuters finds that IARC redacted evidence to the contrary from their report.

“IARC members manipulated and distorted scientific data” in the glyphosate report, Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, tells Reuters.

See “E.U. Delays Vote On Roundup

The original report, as published, contradicts other analyses from groups around the world, according to Reuters. A subsequent analysis by a United Nations and WHO panel concluded that glyphosate from food was “unlikely” to pose a cancer risk to humans, for instance. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency have called glyphosate safe.

The conclusions of that 2015 report have had political consequences. Since its publication, Monsanto has faced litigation in the U.S. from people claiming that the pesticide caused their cancer. In the European Union (E.U.), a pending vote will determine whether to renew glyphosate’s license for sale in EU member states. If the vote is negative, glyphosate will be banned in the E.U. as of January 1, according to Reuters.

Reuters’s investigation suggests that those conclusions might have been different had the report been edited differently. “Reuters found 10 significant changes that were made between the draft chapter on animal studies and the published version of IARC’s glyphosate assessment,” according to the news report. “In each case, a negative conclusion about glyphosate leading to tumors was either deleted or replaced with a neutral or positive one. Reuters was unable to determine who made the changes.”

In two cases, for example, the report included a new statistical analysis that flipped the conclusion of a study from there being no significant link between glyphosate and cancer in mice to an association that was statistically significant, according to Reuters.

The IARC did not answer Reuters’s questions about changes to the report.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: Khuber


Posts: 3

October 23, 2017

There's not enough in the water supply to assure population eugenics?

Avatar of: tblakeslee


Posts: 1

October 23, 2017

The problem with Glyphosate goes way beyond cusing cancer. Its long-term effects cause many chronic diseases. Here is a list of page1 of over 100 scientific paper:



October 25, 2017

Ashley Taylor simply copies what Monsanto has revealed to a Reuters journalist. The last sentence suggests that IARC was unwilling or unable to correct the record. But, as before, IARC simply preferred to issue its response at their web site:


Before propagattng the misinformation from Reuters, why did The Scientist not check with IARC if the story was correct?


Avatar of: KerryGrens


Posts: 854

Replied to a comment from Philippe Grandjean, MD made on October 25, 2017

October 26, 2017

Thank you for alerting us to the IARC response. We have updated this article to include it.

Avatar of: Jon93


Posts: 1

October 26, 2017

Okay so the IARC, which is part of WHO thinks it causes cancer yet WHO themselves along with the UN:FAO says the exact opposite 1. In addition the WHO reaffirms that the IARC did not quantify the risk of cancer. Not only that,  their conclusions are also rejected by the EFSA, EPA, ACSH and others. Lastly a key IARC advisor had undisclosed monetary conflicts of interests 2-6.




1 Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (2016): "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, /.../ glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet." - http://www.who.int/foodsafety/jmprsummary2016.pdf?ua=1


2 Pamela et. al. (2012): "Our review found no consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate." - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22683395


3 Greim et. al. (2015): "There was no evidence of a carcinogenic effect related to glyphosate treatment. The lack of a plausible mechanism, along with published epidemiology studies, which fail to demonstrate clear, statistically significant, unbiased and non-confounded associations between glyphosate and cancer of any single etiology, and a compelling weight of evidence, support the conclusion that glyphosate does not present concern with respect to carcinogenic potential in humans." - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819582/


4 European Union – European Food Safety Authority (2015): "EFSA concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential" - http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4302


5 Environmental Protection Agency – Cancer Assessment Review Committee (2016): "Glyphosate is classified as 'Not Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans'. This classification is based on the following weight-of-evidence considerations:   The epidemiological evidence at this time does not support a causal relationship between glyphosate exposure and solid tumors. /.../   In experimental animals, there is no evidence for carcinogenicity. /.../   /.../ There is no in vivo genotoxic or mutagenic concern for glyphosate." - http://src.bna.com/eAi


6 ACSH – Glyphosate-Gate: IARC's Scientific Fraud: "Christopher Portier, a key IARC advisor who lobbied to have glyphosate listed as a carcinogen, accepted $160,000 from trial lawyers representing cancer patients who stood to profit handsomely by suing glyphosate manufacturers."

Popular Now

  1. Two University of Rochester Professors Resign in Protest
  2. Dartmouth Professor Investigated for Sexual Misconduct Retires
  3. Theranos Leaders Indicted For Fraud
    The Nutshell Theranos Leaders Indicted For Fraud

    Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges that allege the company’s promise to revolutionize blood testing swindled investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and put patients in danger.

  4. Koko the Signing Gorilla Dies at 46