IARC evaluation does not constitute a risk assessment
Evaluations carried out by regulatory authorities across the world for over forty years have all confirmed that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risk to humans, animals or the environment. The recent Review Assessment Report (RAR) generated in the context of the on-going EU review for the renewal of approval of glyphosate found that “no evidence of carcinogenity was obtained”1 in the studies reviewed.
© Glyphosate Task Force The evaluation of limited data on glyphosate by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) does not call these findings into question. The remit of the IARC Monograph Programme (which assesses potential carcinogenic agents) is to identify cancer hazards. Crucially however, its evaluation does not assess the risks associated with actual exposure. This essential element is part of comprehensive risk assessments which are undertaken by official regulatory agencies as part of the approval process for active substances.
The difference between ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’ is often misinterpreted. Without a risk assessment, hazards can be identified but the likelihood, or degree to which, they cause harm cannot be measured.
It is therefore important to put IARC’s conclusion about glyphosate into perspective. IARC’s evaluation cannot be directly compared with reviews conducted by regulatory agencies which assess the effects of active substances in the context of real life exposure scenarios. All studies reviewed by IARC were taken into account in the assessment conducted by the German Authorities on behalf of the European Commission. IARC’s evaluation, however, only reviewed a limited selection of available data.
In the interests of placing IARC’s conclusions in the appropriate context, the GTF wishes to highlight the clarification provided by IARC that the Monograph Programme does not constitute a risk assessment evaluation.
1 Renewal Assessment Report (RAR): Volume 1, Report and Proposed Decision, 18th December 2013, Revised January 29th 2015
Last update: 04 September 2015