During a House Science Committee hearing on Tuesday, Republican lawmakers sided with the chemical industry in questioning the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) classification of glyphosate—the key ingredient in the Monsanto-produced weedkiller Roundup—as a probable carcinogen and threatened to cut off the agency’s funding.
“Fundamentally, this hearing is about the ability of a public health agency to call a carcinogen a carcinogen, even if it makes a huge amount of money for a powerful corporation.”
—Jennifer Sass, Natural Resources Defense Council
IARC, a branch of the World Health Organization, immediately came under fire from industry groups and right-wing lawmakers after arguing in 2015 that the scientific literature shows glyphosate “probably” causes cancer in humans.
On Tuesday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) continued these attacks, suggesting that IARC’s conclusion about glyphosate is “unsubstantiated” and “not backed by reliable data”—a talking point that has been strongly disputed (pdf) by independent scientists.
“The selective use of data and the lack of public disclosure raise questions about why IARC should receive any government funding in the future,” Smith said, citing government officials and a former scientist for the pesticide industry.
While one Monsanto official was quick to express his excitement “that serious questions are being asked about the discredited IARC opinion,” other experts characterize GOP attacks on the IARC as the product of an industry-funded disinformation campaign aimed at undermining scientific findings that threaten corporate profits.
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