EPA says glyphosate, used in Monsanto herbicide, likely not carcinogenic

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto Co’s Roundup herbicide, is not likely carcinogenic to humans, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday as it outlined its current position on the controversial chemical.

The EPA has been involved in a decades-long process to assess human and animal health risks, as well as ecological risks, of glyphosate. Various agencies around the world have offered conflicting opinions on whether glyphosate causes cancer.

The EPA’s “proposed” position on glyphosate was outlined in a 227-page paper it published on the website, which the EPA manages.

After reviewing the available data, the paper states, “The strongest support is for ‘not likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ at doses relevant to human health risk assessment.”

The paper was among 86 documents, which included dozens of research studies about glyphosate. All the material is to be reviewed next month by an advisory group of scientists known as the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel.

“Meeting materials are being shared with the public in advance of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel who will use these materials for the meeting and their report,” the agency said to Reuters in an email statement.

The panel is tasked with reviewing scientific issues related to the agency’s ongoing evaluation of whether the herbicide does - or does not - have the potential to cause cancer in humans. It will also comment on the agency’s review and evaluation process in how it reached its conclusions.

Last year, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Other government authorities have issued a variety of opinions. The European Food Safety Authority last November said glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

The EPA also republished a paper from its cancer assessment review committee, which found that glyphosate was “not likely carcinogenic” to humans. In May, the agency published the CARC paper online, but then removed it and other related documents, saying it had inadvertently published the document prior to finishing its review of the controversial chemical. [nL2N17Z1TZ]

The EPA said on Friday that it expects to publish its final assessment of glyphosate in the spring of 2017. Previously, the agency had said the review could be done by the end of this year.

Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter; Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler