Health Canada doubles down on glyphosate cancer fight

Health Canada doubles down on glyphosate cancer fight

Health Canada has rejected allegations that a key ingredient in a popular pesticide is a cancer risk to humans based on typical use.

The department announced Friday it had decided to stick with its decision in 2017 to approve the use of the ingredient, glyphosate, for 15 years. The result led to accusations from environmental groups that federal oversight of public health had eroded.

Health Canada says it underwent a “thorough scientific review” of its approval of a key ingredient in a popular pesticide, and won’t overturn its decision despite concerns its regulator is “ignoring” potential human health impacts

The department said in a statement that it underwent a “thorough scientific review” of its 2017 decision, including examining “numerous individual studies and raw scientific data” as well as “additional cancer and genotoxicity studies,” and concluded that its “final decision will stand.”

Concern that regulator ‘ignoring’ potential impacts

Glyphosate, the most widely-used weed-killer in Canada, is sprayed on major food crops like corn, soy and wheat. It is also used in forestry and land management, to kill undergrowth.

Tests reveal that it shows up in trace amounts in some foods Canadians eat, like Cheerios and Kraft Dinner. Industry has argued this represents an extremely low amount of exposure and below safety requirements.

Last year, a court in California ruled that pesticide manufacturer Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, knowingly hid the risks of its glyphosate-based product Roundup, and that the pesticide had contributed to the development of cancer in Lee Johnson, a former groundskeeper who had regularly used the product.

As part of that and other legal action, internal company documents were released that lawyers for Johnson had argued showed the company was involved in manipulating scientific papers about glyphosate’s health effects.