Will new Glyphosate Study Cloud Bayer’s Case?
Just days before Bayer is set to face a fresh round of lawsuits inherited from Monsanto, on Feb. 25, a new study being touted in some circles as a broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate-based herbicides has emerged. It claims to have found that people with high exposures have a 41% increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The evidence compiled by the five US authors challenges the contradicting the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conclusion that glyphosate is safe. But while warning that the specific risk must be interpreted with caution, the scientists insist their research supports a “compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Bayer has countered that the study does not provide new epidemiology data, but instead is a “statistical manipulation that is at odds with the extensive body of science, 40 years of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators.”
The German group said also that the paper provides no scientifically valid evidence that contradicts the conclusions of the extensive body of science demonstrating that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic.”
This stance is backed by David Savitz, professor of epidemiology in the Brown University School of Public Health, who said the analysis was “well conducted” but lacking “fundamentally new information.”
By its own account, Bayer faces more than 9,000 lawsuits in the US brought by people suffering from NHL who blame Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides for their diseases. In the first case to go to trial, the plaintiff, a former school groundskeeper, won a unanimous jury verdict; a judge subsequently cut the size of the award, however. Bayer is appealing.
Some trial watchers believe the new study published by the journal Mutation Research /Reviews in Mutation Research, whose editor-in-chief is EPA scientist David DeMarini, could complicate the Bayer/Monsanto line of defense.
Three of the five authors, including Lianne Sheppard, a professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department at the University of Washington, were members of a scientific advisory panel on glyphosate set up by the EPA in 2016.
The panel has accused the EPA of failing to follow proper scientific protocols in determining that glyphosate was not likely to cause cancer. It is as yet unclear, however, whether any of the study’s evidence will heard in the upcoming trials.
EPA has said it is currently reviewing the study, but Sheppard has made no secret of the fact that she considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen. “This paper makes a stronger case than previous meta-analyses that there is evidence of an increased risk of NHL due to glyphosate exposure,” she said.