Within internal documents, the company Monsanto did itself make the link between its very popular weedkiller, Roundup, and cancer. This was indicated, on Tuesday, by the magazine Knack and the Dutch periodical OneWorld. Both media organisations have had sight of the documents of the American biotechnology giant.
One of these documents is a PowerPoint from July 2008. It states, “Roundup influences one of the crucial phases of cell division, which might in the long term lead to cancer.” These internal presentation documents also contain the conclusions of the French biologist Robert Bellé (Professor Emeritus at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie – or Paris VI – a research institution) The results from his study, published in 2002 in the scientific magazine Chemical Research in Toxicology, demonstrate that Roundup can damage cell DNA, even in the low doses which farmers and amateur gardeners use.
Internal e-mails point to the fact that Monsanto considers Bellé’s results as proving a serious problem. The documents in question have been referred to during a trial in California in which around a thousand individuals, mainly farmers, confirm having developed lymphatic cancer owing to the use of Roundup.
The risks in which Roundup results are currently at the heart of a controversy. In March 2015, a group of experts from the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) concluded that glyphosate, the most significant constituent in Roundup, is “probably carcinogenic” in humans. The European Food Safety Agency (“EFSA”) and the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) did not follow this conclusion and considered glyphosate to be safe.
The European Union is about to renew the glyphosate licence for ten years. In any event, this is what the European Commission is proposing to member states. At present, the proposal is subject to difficult “behind-the-scenes” negotiations. A decision is due to be made, in December, as to whether the most-used herbicide in Europe should stay on the market.