THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Corporate-Driven Campaign to Undermine the International Agency for Research on Cancer
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is a specialized cancer research agency of the World Health Organization which evaluates causes of cancer. Since 1970, the IARC Monographs Program has been evaluating chemical substances, agents, exposure circumstances, and lifestyle factors for evidence of carcinogenicity The primary objective of the Program is to publish in the form of agent/substance-oriented Monographs, critical reviews and scientific evaluations written by an international working group of experts on evidence of carcinogenicity for a wide range of human exposures. IARC Monographs provide a valuable objective international health service to evaluate and inform the public about cancer hazards.
Countries and research and regulatory agencies adopt IARC classifications for communication of potential human cancer hazards, and for developing strategies to control and prevent cancer. Based on selection criteria, only ∼20% of agents/exposure circumstances reviewed by the IARC are classified as human carcinogens or probable human carcinogens. An IARC Monograph that has recently received considerable attention is on glyphosate, widely used in conjunction with GM herbicide-resistant crops. Glyphosate was categorised as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
In response, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a trade association that promotes the interests of US chemical companies, initiated a Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research. Monsanto, through membership in the ACC, has lobbied extensively, and allegedly paid scientists to author papers on the safety of glyphosate, contradicting the IARC. The ACC has lobbied the US Congress to investigate IARC's review of glyphosate, resulting in a questioning of the credibility of the IARC Monographs and of its funding.
Challenges to scientific interpretations serve to advance science and should be resolved by scientific experts who do not have conflicts of interest. Such interference does not bode well for the free flow of scientific information that informs and protects the public from risks of cancer.
With best wishes,
COMMENTARY: IARC MONOGRAPHS PROGRAM AND PUBLIC HEALTH UNDER SIEGE BY CORPORATE INTERESTS
Infante, P. F., Melnick, R., Vainio, H., & Huff, J. (2018)
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
3 Feb 2018
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluates causes of cancer with help from independent international experts in an open and transparent manner. Countries, research and regulatory agencies, and other organizations adopt IARC evaluations for communication of human cancer hazards, and for strategies to prevent cancer. Scientists worldwide endorse IARC cancer evaluations and process. Those with economic interests, however, challenge IARC's cancer evaluations, most recently for glyphosate and red and processed meats, and are conducting a campaign including intervention from US Congressional Representatives to discredit IARC's review process and to undermine financial support—a campaign intimidating to IARC and Working Group members. Challenges to scientific interpretations serve to advance science and should be resolved by scientific experts who do not have conflicts of interest. Such interference does not bode well for the free flow of scientific information that informs and protects the public from risks of cancer.