In a world rife with concerns, it’s unconscionable that an international organization would go as far as to manipulate and distort scientific data to meet a preconceived agenda.

Reuters has discovered that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) dismissed and edited findings from a draft review of glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion.

The reality is that the three leading pesticide regulators in the world – the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have all thoroughly studied glyphosate and come to the same conclusion: glyphosate will not increase the risk of cancer when used as intended. On top of that, a joint United Nations and World Health Organization panel reviewed glyphosate and concluded it was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.”

Glyphosate is one of the safest and most effective herbicides ever developed and it has been studied and used for more than 40 years. It is a tool that helped revolutionize farming, allowing farmers to usher in no-till and conservation tillage practices that have helped save precious topsoil and reduce carbon emissions. This, and other herbicides, have allowed farmers to control weeds more effectively and grow more on existing land without having to turn new land into agricultural production.

Canadians are fortunate there’s a rigorous scientific decision making process in place for evaluating the food we eat and the tools used to produce it. All registered pesticides must undergo a complete re-evaluation at least every 15 years in order to ensure that they continue to meet the latest human health and environmental standards. In 2017, the PMRA released its final re-evaluation decision for glyphosate. Following an exhaustive review of all available scientific data, the PMRA concluded that when used according to instructions, glyphosate is not likely to cause a health risk to humans or to the environment.

The plant science industry and agriculture industry as a whole rely on sound scientific studies as the basis for all regulatory decisions. When a handful of scientists at IARC, which is not a regulatory body, come to findings that are so dramatically different than world leading experts, it should be reason for pause, but when it turns out that these findings may have been predetermined, it is reason for outrage. Not only does is put farmers’ access to beneficial tools in jeopardy but it also does a huge disservice to Canadians who may question the safety of the food they’re eating.

We are seeing the effects of the IARC glyphosate conclusion throughout the world. In Europe, despite the numerous expert panels and regulatory opinions that have countered the IARC findings, they are in a political quagmire regarding glyphosate. The product’s renewal in Europe is in question, some countries have vowed to ban it regardless, and activist groups have embarked on a relentless fear campaign supported by the IARC findings. The consequences for European agriculture are almost unfathomable.

One would hope the discovery of the questionable circumstances surrounding the IARC report serves as a sober second thought for activist groups right here in Canada who have repeatedly referenced this report while calling into question Health Canada’s decision on the safety of glyphosate.

Regulatory decisions should be left to the groups with the expertise and rigour to do that job because their priority is to ensure Canadians and the environment are protected, rather than seeking headlines.

Pierre Petelle, president, CropLife Canada