International Dioxin Developments

July 31, 2015 | Appeals | Complex Torts & Product Liability

Monsanto Empanels Group to Review IARC Classification of Glyphosate

Earlier this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (“IARC”) classified the herbicide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). Now, Monsanto is reportedly forming a panel of scientists to review the analysis of the IARC, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

In reaching its conclusion about glyphosate, the IARC said that there was “limited evidence” of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the United States, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, the IARC said, there was “convincing evidence” that glyphosate could cause cancer in laboratory animals.

The IARC noted that, on the basis of tumors in mice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group C) in 1985 but that, after a re-evaluation of that mouse study, the EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans (Group E) in 1991.

The IARC said that an IARC working group that conducted the evaluation considered the findings from the EPA report and several more recent results in concluding that there was “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” According to the IARC, glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, although it gave negative results in tests using bacteria. Moreover, the IARC said, one study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby.

Monsanto, which introduced Roundup, a glyphosate, in 1974, said in a media call that its panel of scientists will have over 10 “independent, globally recognized experts in a range of fields.”

Monsanto Chief Executive Officer Brett Begemann was quoted as saying that the IARC’s decision had to “be reviewed carefully to find out how they reached such a different conclusion” than regulators have reached about glyphosate. He said, “It’s a sad day when people are confused about a product that has such an incredible safety record. We hope we can clarify some of that [through the review panel] and settle down some of the confusion.”

3 Companies Reportedly Agree to Pay to Cleanup Wales Quarry

The Guardian newspaper has reported thatMonsanto, BP, and Veolia will pay to clean up a former quarry in South Wales that contains chemical and industrial waste allegedly dumped in the 1960s and 1970s from a local plant owned by Monsanto and from BP. Veolia now owns the contractors allegedly responsible for disposing of Monsanto’s waste. 

The companies continue to deny their liability for claims at the site, known as the “Brofiscin quarry.”

Monsanto told The Guardian that it has “reached an agreement with the Environment Agency Wales resolving our alleged liability associated with the quarry.”

In statements to the paper, BP said, “BP did not directly use the Brofiscin quarry and has not been found liable for its clean up; this relates to material that we potentially consigned to a waste disposal contractor that used the quarry more than 40 years ago. BP reached agreement in May 2015 with Natural Resources Wales to make a goodwill contribution towards part of the cleanup costs incurred at the Brofiscin site.”

Veolia added, “The case of the Brofiscin Landfill relates to activities carried out by a company that had ceased to operate and had not functioned for a lengthy period prior to Veolia’s acquisition of the Cleanaway group of companies in 2006.

“Veolia has, for some while, been in dialogue with the Natural Resources Wales and others to devise a no-fault solution to key issues at Brofiscin that dealt with matters responsibly and ensured the site was safe and secure going forward. Veolia confirms that it made a voluntary contribution to the cost of the remediation works that have been carried out at the site and is pleased that these have now been effected.”

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