Health Canada is standing by its approval of glyphosate, arguing that objections raised against the herbicide last year by environmental groups aren’t supported by science.
“We have concluded that the concerns raised by the objectors could not be scientifically supported when considering the entire body of relevant data,” the Health Canada report reads. “Our scientists left no stone unturned in conducting this review.”
Last year, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) issued its re-approval of glyphosate, the active component of Monsanto’s Round-Up herbicide, after reviewing more than 1,300 studies. A number of environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice, objected, arguing that the agency was ignoring credible evidence of danger.
So Health Canada announced it would re-review the scientific literature. Objections to glyphosate, a popular herbicide used on many crops, including corn and soybeans, were raised globally after the World Health Organization in 2015 erroneously called glyphosate a probable cause of cancer.
Farmers and scientists erupted in anger. Health Canada has sided with farmers again.
An analysis by 20 Health Canada scientists concluded that glyphosate is safe. “A team of 20 of our best scientists reviewed the evidence before coming to this decision,” said Health Canada spokesman Thierry Belair.
Glyphosate has been a regular feature in the news. Last year, CTV News ran the headline: “Weed-killing chemical found in pasta, cereal and cookies sold in Canada: Study.” Many farmers weren’t pleased. “This is super disappointing that you ran a story (with click bait) from activists whose study is to do one thing — create fear about agriculture and how my family and I farm,” wrote Saskatchewan crop farmer Lesley Kelly.
In the United States, the story of the herbicides has ups and downs. In California, a judge ruled the state couldn’t label glyphosate as cancer-causing. However, a California groundskeeper was awarded $289 million after his lawyers argued his terminal cancer had been caused by Round-Up. The decision was excoriated in a Washington Post editorial, which wrote that the World Health Organization’s decision to consider glyphosate “probably carcinogenic” was not supported by science. Said the Post: “Its risk assessments suggest that working as a barber or hairdresser is only slightly less hazardous than being exposed to mustard gas.”