EPA Used Biased Studies to Deem Glyphosate “Safe”

EPA Used Biased Studies to Deem Glyphosate “Safe”

In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that the there was “no convincing evidence” that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide ‘Roundup,’ is an endocrine disruptor. The conclusion was based on an assessment of 52 chemicals and the likelihood that any of them could be classified as such. [1]

This was great news for Monsanto, who, in March, took a hit when the World Health Organization (WHO) said that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“I was happy to see that the safety profile of one of our products was upheld by an independent regulatory agency,” said Steve Levine.

Monsanto probably wasn’t surprised by the EPA’s conclusion, however. It appears the company may have gone to great lengths to ensure glyphosate got a favorable ruling. In the past, when glyphosate research proved unfavorable, Monsanto has pressured scientific communities, regulatory bodies and others to reconsider or reclassify the findings.

Of the 32 studies used to examine glyphosate’s effect on the endocrine system, 27 of them were either conducted or funded by the agrichemical industry. The majority of the studies were funded by Monsanto or an industry group called the Joint Monsanto Task Force. One study was funded by Syngenta, which sells its own glyphosate-containing herbicide, Touchdown. Most of the studies were not publicly available and were only obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request. [2]

Monsanto had wanted to acquire Syngenta, but in August the company dropped its $46.5 billion bid for its Swiss competitor after, according to Monsanto, Syngenta refused to merge with Monsanto in a way that would generate significant interactions for stockholders and a more expansive selection of products aimed at farmers. [3]

Only 5 independently funded studies were considered in the EPA’s review. Three of the 5 studies concluded that glyphosate could indeed be an endocrine disruptor.

One of the studies found that exposure to glyphosate-Roundup “may induce significant adverse effects on the reproductive system of male Wistar rats at puberty and during adulthood.” Another study revealed that “low and environmentally relevant concentrations of glyphosate possessed estrogenic activity.”

And upon further review of the literature, The Intercept found several other peer-reviewed studies that showed that glyphosate can wreak havoc on the endocrine system by affecting the hormonal activity in human liver cells, the functioning of rat sperm and the sex ratio of exposed tadpoles. This is just a small sample of the ways in which the studies found that glyphosate is dangerous to animals

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, none of the 27 glyphosate studies concluded that the chemical is an endocrine disruptor. Plus, most of the studies involved in the EPA’s review were conducted more than 2 decades ago, before the term “endocrine disruption” even existed.

By exonerating glyphosate, the EPA will not require additional tests of glyphosate’s impact on hormones.


[1] Takepart

[2] The Intercept

[3] Forbes