IARC Monographs Questioned by Congress

FEBRUARY 8, 2018


The International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Monographs Program was critically evaluated by the House Science, Space & Technology (HSST) Committee during a hearing this week, specifically examining IARC’s Glyphosate Monograph as a case study for the issues that plague the agency’s processes and procedures.

IARC concluded that the popular herbicide glyphosate, which is used in Monsanto Company’s Roundup® product, is “probably carcinogenic to humans” despite contrary conclusions from U.S. EPA and other regulatory bodies. Based upon IARC’s determination, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment began the process to add the substance to the Proposition 65 list.

HSST Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) highlighted issues with the conclusion: “There appear to be serious problems with the science underlying IARC’s assessment of glyphosate. The news media recently revealed evidence of data deletion and manipulation of draft assessments before final publication . . .The selective use of data and the lack of public disclosure raise questions about why IARC should receive any government funding in the future.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) stated in response, “It is important that we review the methods and tactics that industry has used to influence this [Trump] administration and attack independent scientific organizations like the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. We must make sure any chemical review is not undone by undue industry influence or misleading scientific studies.”

The Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR) Coalition, organized by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fully supported the oversight hearing, “We have serious concerns with the Program’s lack of scientific integrity and transparency in developing Monographs. Our goal is to reform and update the IARC Monographs Program to bring it into the 21st century and restore public trust. This will require IARC to increase transparency in its processes for choosing experts, involving stakeholders, and selecting and analyzing studies,” said ACC President Cal Dooley.

IARC receives approximately $6 million of its overall $54 million annual budget from the U.S. National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.