U.S. lawmakers seek missing information
in review of Monsanto weedkiller
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[August 09, 2017]
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, (Reuters) - The chairman of a
congressional committee has asked the U.S. National Institutes of Health
(NIH) to explain why its National Cancer Institute (NCI) failed to
publish data that showed no links between glyphosate and cancer.
In a Tuesday letter seen by Reuters, U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, who
chairs the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform (OGR),
said he "is concerned about the new revelations" and is "seeking more
information" about why the exculpatory results were not published by the
Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling weedkiller
Gowdy's letter to NIH Director Francis Collins follows a June report by
Reuters which found that a senior scientist from the NCI knew that fresh
data from a large research project known as the Agricultural Health
Study (AHS) showed no links between glyphosate and cancer.
Draft scientific papers dating from 2013 containing the data were never
published. Consequently, the information was not able to be taken into
account during the March 2015 review of the pesticide by the World
Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer
An NIH spokeswoman told Reuters the NIH had received Gowdy's letter "and
will be responding directly to the committee."
Aaron Blair, the senior scientist at the NCI who knew about the data and
also chaired the IARC review, previously told Reuters the data was not
published in time because there was too much to fit into one scientific
paper. Blair is now retired from the NCI.
An NCI spokeswoman told Reuters in June the institute was drafting a
manuscript on this topic. It would "explore the effects of glyphosate
exposure in greater depth", she said, and would be submitted to a
peer-reviewed journal "in the coming months."
Gowdy's letter asked for "a briefing on these issues as soon as
possible". It also asked for information and any documents relating to
the unpublished AHS data on glyphosate.
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Monsanto Co's Roundup is shown for sale in Encinitas, California,
U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
No one at IARC, which is based in Lyon, France, was immediately
available for comment late on Tuesday.
IARC concluded in 2015 that glyphosate, is a "probable human
carcinogen." It based its finding on "limited evidence" of
carcinogenicity in humans and "sufficient evidence" in experimental
The agency's assessment is at odds with other international
regulators who have said the weedkiller is not a carcinogenic risk
The OGR has been looking into U.S. taxpayer funding of IARC. It
began investigating IARC's operations in 2016 after several
lawmakers raised questions about why U.S. taxpayers were funding an
agency that often faces criticism for its work.
A letter by Jason Chaffetz, then chairman of the OGR, in September
2016, also addressed to the NIH director, described IARC as having
"a record of controversy, retractions, and inconsistencies" and
asked why the NIH continued to fund it.
In previous responses to questions about its assessments of
glyphosate and many other substances, IARC has defended them as
The agency says its "monographs" - the name it gives its
classifications of carcinogens - are "widely respected for their
scientific rigor, standardized and transparent process and ...
freedom from conflicts of interest".
(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Nick
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