JUL 09, 2017 9:02 AM PDT

California to Categorize Roundup as Carcinogen

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Glyphosate, a component of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, is expected to be added to the list of cancer-causing chemicals as per California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, a.k.a. Proposition 65, by the State’s Environmental Protection Agency early July. This action does not make it illegal to sell Roundup or other herbicides that contain glyphosate in the state. However, herbicide manufacturers will be required to put a warning label on glyphosate-based products before next year.

Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide. Its plant-killing mechanism involves blocking the shikimic acid or shikimate pathway, which is essential for the biosynthesis of folates and aromatic amino acids in plants and some microorganisms. Pure glyphosate is low in acute toxicity, but other ingredients in the formulation of herbicides can improve bioavailability to human thus enhance the toxicity of the glyphosate. Eye or skin irritation are among common symptoms to people who are exposed to glyphosate, and those who inhaled the herbicide mist were reported to feel irritation in their nose and throat.

Chemical structure of glyphosate. Credit: wikipedia

Many regulatory bodies have evaluated the link between glyphosate and development cancer in human. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed glyphosate in the class of chemicals that are “probably carcinogenic to humans”, or also known as Category 2A based the agency’s own evaluation. Items in this category includes commonly used pure and mixed chemicals such as acrylamide and bitumens, and chemotherapeutics such as doxorubin and cisplatin.

Although several studies that focused on people who work with the herbicide have found increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, data from a large US study which followed thousands of farmers contradicted this conclusion. Evidence that led the IARC to its ‘probably carcinogenic’ classification mostly came from observation of carcinogenesis in animals and in vitro study on human cells, and limited human data.

Agricultural use of glyphosate in US. Credit: wikipedia

Monsanto, the creator of Roundup, had unsuccessfully sued the California government to prevent the move last year when the state initialized the process to add glyphosate to Proposition 65. Despite the first failed attempt, the herbicide and agrichemical giant has pledged to appeal. Upon winning the appeal, their products would not make the list of dangerous chemicals.

An industry group of called the Glyphosate Task Force (Monsanto as a member) has previously denounced the classification of glyphosate by IARC, stating that the WHO division had “purposefully disregarded dozens of scientific studies” that showed no genetic toxicity. What is interesting, some academic scientists also cautioned that the “probable carcinogenic” classification of glyphosate by IARC lacks sufficient evidence.

 

Source: USA Today/Nature

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
FEB 17, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Is it possible to demonstrate quantum gravity?
FEB 17, 2021
Is it possible to demonstrate quantum gravity?
New, exciting research on quantum computation comes from an international collaboration led by the University of Notting ...
MAR 11, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
More effective way of recycling carbon fibers
MAR 11, 2021
More effective way of recycling carbon fibers
A team from the University of Sydney's School of Civil Engineering has designed a method to improve the recycling of ...
MAR 24, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Can we promote the hydrogen economy without fossil fuels?
MAR 24, 2021
Can we promote the hydrogen economy without fossil fuels?
New research published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition reports a novel approach to producing hydrogen su ...
APR 01, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Analyzing nitrogen dioxide with deep learning
APR 01, 2021
Analyzing nitrogen dioxide with deep learning
Researchers from Penn State are looking to deep learning to act as a method for improving air quality predictions. The r ...
MAY 14, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New way to convert dangerous volatile organic compounds
MAY 14, 2021
New way to convert dangerous volatile organic compounds
The emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from power plants and chemical manufacturing, as well as other industr ...
JUN 09, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Just how toxic are we talking? Understanding lanthanides with the help of yeast
JUN 09, 2021
Just how toxic are we talking? Understanding lanthanides with the help of yeast
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details an exhaustive compilat ...
Loading Comments...