Dr Chris Wild makes EFSA’s retractions of its “misrepresentations” of IARC’s work a condition of meeting
Dr Chris Wild, the head of the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), has demanded that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) correct “misrepresentations” of IARC’s Monograph on glyphosate on its website and in distributed materials.
Dr Wild insists that the corrections must be made before he will agree to meet with EFSA as planned to discuss their different verdicts on glyphosate.
IARC says glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, while EFSA says it is unlikely to pose a cancer risk.
In January this year, EFSA's executive director Bernhard Url published an open letter rejecting criticisms made by Prof Chris Portier, an IARC hearing expert, and 96 other scientists.
In response, Dr Wild wrote to Dr Url: "In your letter and annex dated 13 January, responding to Dr Christopher Portier on the topic of glyphosate, the IARC monographs are repeatedly referred to as a first step or 'screening' assessments.
"This could easily be misconstrued as preliminary or superficial, and it is important, therefore, that this impression is corrected."
Dr Wild added: "My opinion is that timely correction of all factual errors and misrepresentations with regard to the IARC Monographs is necessary, as an indication of good faith, before we can confirm the planned joint meeting between EFSA and IARC."
EFSA statements that Dr Wild wants the agency to retract include:
* EFSA’s implied criticism when it said it assessed more evidence than IARC
* EFSA’s assertion that IARC did not take account of long-term studies, even though it is claimed these were publicly available
* EFSA’s claim that IARC knew about five long-term toxicity/carcinogenicity studies but did not assess them.
He asks that EFSA publish his letter with these demands on the EFSA website alongside the letters between Prof Portier and EFSA. EFSA has done so.
In response, Dr Url clarifies some of the comments made by EFSA. He states that his reference to IARC Monographs as “screening assessments” was not “meant to imply criticism or to characterise the Monographs as superficial”.
He adds that EFSA’s statement that it assessed more evidence than IARC referred to “the mandatory Good Laboratory Practice studies” that industry submits as part of its application for approval of pesticides, “not all of which were considered by IARC in its assessment of glyphosate”.
Those who are familiar with the industry studies submitted in support of regulatory approval of pesticides and GMOs will not be impressed. Good Laboratory Practice is not a mark of scientific excellence. Instead it is a set of minimum standards that industry must meet in its safety tests on its own products, that were imposed by regulators in response to serious and widespread industry fraud in the safety testing of pesticides, including glyphosate, in the 1970s and 1980s.
These studies are normally unpublished and kept secret from the public under commercial confidentiality agreements with regulators, which is why IARC didn’t assess them.
Dr Url urges Dr Wild to go ahead with the meeting, saying he will consider correcting any "factual mistakes" on the website after the meeting, "should they remain".
"Given the high level of public concern about glyphosate – I strongly believe that there is value in going ahead with the planned meeting between IARC and EFSA," concludes Dr Url.
A face-to-face meeting was the best way to address any remaining misunderstandings, he added.