Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Fixing the science

EU regulators based a decision to relicense the controversial weedkiller glyphosate on an assessment plagiarised from industry reports, according to a report for the European parliament by crossparty group of MEPs. Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) was copy-and-pasted tracts from Monsanto studies which had been released hours before a parliamentary vote on tightening independent scrutiny of the pesticides approvals process. The authors said they found “clear evidence of BfR’s deliberate pretence of an independent assessment, whereas in reality the authority was only echoing the industry applicants’ assessment.”
Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP, said the scale of alleged plagiarism by the BfR " helps explain why the World Health Organisation assessment on glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen was so at odds with EU assessors, who awarded this toxic pesticide a clean bill of health, brushing off warnings of its dangers,” she said.

The study found plagiarism in 50% of the chapters assessing published studies on health risks – including whole paragraphs and entire pages of text. The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe for public use on the BfR’s assessment. 
A separate analysis of research methods used to evaluate glyphosate by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also raised questions about regulatory independence. It found that EPA regulators used unpublished industry reports in 63% of the studies they evaluated, whereas the IARC relied solely on publicly available literature. Almost three-quarters of the peer-reviewed papers looked at by IARC found evidence of genotoxicity in glyphosate, compared with just 1% of the industry analyses, according to the study published in Environmental Sciences Europe.

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