GOP chairman questions US funding for international cancer research agency
The chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Tuesday slammed an international body’s cancer research on a common pesticide and questioned whether the United States should contribute funding to the body.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) conclusions on the pesticide glyphosate “unsubstantiated” and “not backed by reliable data.”
He also accused the agency of using “cherry-picked” information.
“IARC’s conclusion about glyphosate relied only on data that was favorable to its conclusion and ignored contradictory data,” Smith said at a hearing about the IARC process.
“The selective use of data and the lack of public disclosure raise questions about why IARC should receive any government funding in the future.”
IARC is part of the World Health Organization, itself a United Nations agency. It gets money from the U.S. through the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The hearing focused on a 2015 conclusion from IARC that found that glyphosate, an extremely common pesticide sold by Monsanto Co. as Roundup, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
That finding contrasts with studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and government researchers in Canada and Europe.
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the Science Committee’s vice chairman, called IARC’s work “shoddy” and said it is “unacceptable from any scientific body, let alone one funded by the American taxpayer.”
Democrats on the committee pushed back at the GOP’s characterizations of IARC and tried to turn the tables against Monsanto, which has been pushing against the 2015 finding through numerous means.
“It is important that we review the methods and tactics that industry has used to influence this [Trump] administration and attack independent scientific organizations like the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer,” said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.).
“We must make sure any chemical review is not undone by undue industry influence or misleading scientific studies.”
Bonamici said the discrepancy between IARC’s findings and those of agencies such as the EPA may have a simple explanation: IARC examines whether a chemical could possibly cause cancer under particular circumstances, while the EPA seeks to estimate the cancer risks.