November 14, 2017
Guest post by Marcel Kuntz, researcher at CNRS France
A column in Euractiv (https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/opinion/from-the-monsanto-papers-to-iarc-gate-a-glyphosate-story/) has already revealed the story behind the glyphosate ban campaign. These facts, brought to light in July 2017, did not seem to reach European politicians. One may ask: what more do they need? Well, actually there is more…
Summary of past episodes
There are serious suspicions of misbehaviour, motivated by greed, within the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group on glyphosate. As everybody knows now, the IARC has classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen”. What the press rarely mentions is that this opinion has been contradicted by a dozen other scientific authorities. It appeared during court hearings in the United States that several people involved in the IARC report have financial links with certain law firms involved in lawsuits against a producer of this herbicide, taking advantage of the IARC ranking.
New pieces of the scandal
A Reuters investigation (http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/who-iarc-glyphosate/) reveals that the glyphosate report was changed at the last minute and that these changes have shifted the balance in favour of a “likely carcinogenic” classification, which was not the case with the previous version.
Another known aspect of the scandal concerns the IARC’s failure to consider the largest epidemiological study on glyphosate. This Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is now (finally) accessible (https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx233/4590280) allowing everybody to note that there is no relation between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (the one cancer that the IARC considered most heavily in its report). Astonishingly, a US law firm intruded in the debate by lobbying the European Commission, Parliament and Member States against the AHS study (https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Letter20Re20Expert20Reports.pdf).
The release of some emails during the above-mentioned court hearings suggests triangular conspiratorial links (IARC glyphosate working group member, green politician, and activist journalist) against glyphosate. (http://seppi.over-blog.com/2017/11/les-portier-papers-stephane-foucart-et-le-circ.html). Maybe not illegal, but is it ethical?
An inquiry is necessary
Each European citizen is entitled to receive answers to the following questions.
Why was the scientific publication of the AHS study so delayed? Why was its draft not taken into account by the IARC when at least one member of its glyphosate working group knew about its results?
Why does the IARC refuse to publish its internal documents related to its meetings on glyphosate?
What are the levels of complicity within the IARC with the lawsuit business that emerged after its glyphosate classification? Was such a business already triggered by previous IARC classifications?
Why did the European politicians, including at the European Parliament, fail to protect European citizens from such a fear campaign (which is not the only one!)? Is it that our elected politicians are no longer able to discriminate truth and untruths?
Yes, an official inquiry concerning the IARC should be initiated. But the question is: who is going to conduct such an investigation if too many European leaders have surrendered to Post-Truth? That is to say a fictional and credulous construction, with its imaginary enemies, its doomed prophets and its profiteers, leading to a destructive frenzy of entire sectors of the economy.
Marcel Kuntz is a researcher at CNRS (France) but not its official spokesman. He was awarded the French Academy of Agriculture 2017 Gold Medal. He has no income linked to glyphosate production, use or related research activity.