The United States should stop funding the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), says a new study, because its risk assessments and classifications are driven by political considerations not grounded in sound scientific methods.
The author of the study, Angela Logomasini, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the federal government is wasting the $3 million in funding it gives annually to IARC, because the organization produces misleading claims about the dangers of chemicals.
Logomasini’s research says IARC classifications are out of line with actual risk assessments and, as a result, needlessly alarm consumers and encourage policy makers to respond with counterproductive policies which remove perfectly good products from use.
Treating All Risks Alike
The IARC refuses to consider potency and exposure levels to the chemicals or products it examines resulting in a classification system which counts being a house painter, exposure to plutonium, eating salty fish or processed meats, and smoking in the same category of “known carcinogen.”
In a 2015 review of the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular and widely used herbicide Roundup, IARC concluded the chemical was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Activists used this conclusion to sue the Monsanto for hundreds of millions of dollars.
IARC’s review ignored the fact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the European Food Safety Authority, and regulatory authorities around the world have found Roundup is safe for human use.
Logomasini found, IARC cherry picked studies to support a “probable carcinogen” label, ignoring more than 800 studies coming to the opposite conclusion. In addition, one IARC advisor on the study came from the anti-chemical group Environmental Defense Fund. In addition the advisor had serious financial conflict of interest, having signed an agreement to serve as an expert witness by lawyers suing Monsanto.
In addition, Reuters discovered the IARC report was essentially doctored at the last minute to change the final conclusion.
“Reuters found 10 significant changes that were made between the draft … and the published version of IARC’s glyphosate assessment,” Logomasini writes. “In each case, a negative conclusion about glyphosate leading to tumors was either deleted or replaced with a neutral or positive one.”
“IARC came out with an anti-Monsanto decision, saying Roundup probably carcinogenic when every other major research body around the world has found it is not,” Logomasini told Environment & Climate News. “It has very low toxicity, it’s a very good product which helps farmers to produce an affordable food supply, and yet the activists want to throw this out and forget about what it would mean for farmers and the cost of food for consumers.”
“Herbicides like Roundup also benefit the environment by enabling farmers to do no-till and conservation tillage (reduced tilling), which produce less water pollution and less erosion of the soil,” Logomasini said.
Group Is ‘Hopelessly Corrupt’
IARC is hopelessly corrupt, biased against chemicals, and uses antiquated processes, says Paul Driessen, a senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.
“For many years, IARC superseded or displaced science with activism, to serve the needs and agendas of anti-chemical environmentalist groups and mass-tort law firms,” Driessen said. “IARC lumps bacon, sausage, plutonium and sunlight together in Group 1, its highest risk category, as “definitely carcinogenic.”
“IARC’s Group 2B carcinogens include caffeic acid, found in coffee, tea and numerous healthy fruits and vegetables, including apples, blueberries, broccoli, kale, and onions,” said Driessen. “To date, IARC has studied over 900 chemicals, only once find a chemical was “probably” not carcinogenic. It has even claimed pickled vegetables and “very hot” beverages cause cancer.”
Driessen says IARC’s research and ratings are worthless for assessing risk or forming health policies.
“None of this provides any useful information to people or medical practitioners from a public health perspective,” Driessen said. “However, it gives abundant useful ammunition to activists who want to stoke fear and get chemicals they dislike banned – and to lawyers who want to get rich by suing chemical companies.”
Not ‘Another Penny’
Jay Lehr, the science director at The Heartland Institute, says IARC shouldn’t get another penny from the United States.
“I don’t really trust any of their science,” said Lehr. “All the way through, with everything they do, they’re more into fearmongering than science,”
“While the $3 million the United States provides IARC is a drop in the bucket of the money we spend on cancer research and IARC receives, I wouldn’t give them another penny,” Lehr said. “I think their funding should be withdrawn not to save money but to issue a complaint, to make it clear we’re not giving any amount of money because we don’t agree with the way the organization conducts itself and the science protocols they have established.”
Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.
Angela Logomasini, “U.S. Should Stop Funding the International Agency for Research on Cancer,’ Competitive Enterprise Institute, September 19, 2018: https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/us-should-stop-funding-the-international-agency-for-research-on-cancer