Industry Trumps Science in EPA Assessment of Glyphosate

Is the pesticide industry putting its thumb on the scale of the EPA's safety considerations when it comes to glyphosate? It appears so.


Food System

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its assessment of glyphosate — and what it shows is some heavy-handed industry influence. The study ultimately concluded that glyphosate — the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup — was not a probable carcinogen. But a closer look at the EPA’s sources reveals stronger ties to industry than to science.

The EPA assessment incorporated over 100 studies, but only 40% of these came from the open, peer-reviewed literature. Nearly 60% were unpublished and submitted by the industry. This heavy industry slant overwhelmed the independent published findings.

Additionally, the EPA used a “weight of evidence” approach, ranking each study and weighing it against the others. But in a data set so weighed down by industry studies, important independent findings were eclipsed. For instance, data from the genotoxicity studies from the open literature were 33 times more likely to find evidence of glyphosate’s toxicity than those from industry – but the EPA ultimately concluded there was “no convincing evidence” of glyphosate’s genotoxicity.

In contrast, the World Health Organization used only open literature or government studies to determine that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” This reliance on published studies helps avoid an industry-driven conclusion.

We can’t let corporate giants determine the conclusion that serves their bottom line. The EPA needs to perform a meaningful, industry-free review of glyphosate.

Want to understand this issue even better? Here’s another short writeup.