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Glyphosate and science

Glyphosate weed killer has been in the news in recent months. In August, a jury awarded $289 million in damages to a California pesticide applicator who sued Monsanto over the claim that glyphosate caused his cancer. However, pesticide applicators have also received reassurances from the 2018 Agricultural Health Study and other risk assessments that glyphosate is not carcinogenic at real-world exposure levels.

Since 1993, the U.S. Agricultural Health Study has examined how agricultural practices affect cancer and health outcomes among licensed pesticide applicators. An analysis in 2001 showed no significant associations between glyphosate and cancer. In 2018, an updated analysis of the Agricultural Health Study data included 54,252 pesticide applicators and 5,779 cancer cases. No association was found between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

While there was some indication of increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia in the highest exposure quartile, this association was not statistically significant. The jury decision in California does not undercut the scientific validity of those risk assessments, according to Mary Ann “Mimi” Rose, program director for Ohio State University Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program. Contact her at 614-247-7489, rose.155@osu.edu.

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