Farm Progress

Oklahoma senator says government agencies have an obligation to publish publicly-funded scientific studies.

Forrest Laws

August 7, 2017

2 Min Read
Hooded sprayer moves through a cotton field in Mississippi Delta.

The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is asking two federal health and human services officials to make the Agricultural Health Study or AHS on the effects of glyphosate and other pesticides public.

The AHS is a multi-year, real world medical survey of farmers who use agricultural herbicides and pesticides and whose data could figure into whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is likely carcinogenic or cancer-causing.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the EPW Committee chair, has written a letter to Dr. Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, urging them to review the study and “if it is complete, make public all aspects of the study as it relates to glyphosate.”

Inhofe cites a report by the Reuters’ news service that the AHS was completed by the National Institutes of Health two years prior to the now infamous decision by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate was “likely a carcinogenic.”

The IARC is a French-based organization that is loosely affiliated with the World Health Organization; that is, while the IARC claims to be part of the WHO in actuality it is not. Portions of the IARC funding are provided by agencies of the U.S. government.

Scientific data not considered

The Agricultural Health Study concluded that glyphosate does not cause cancer. “Moreover, the scientist who was involved in the AHS and led the IARC monograph on glyphosate knew of the existence of the AHS and the conclusions drawn therein,” said Sen. Inhofe. “However, because the IARC rules prevent the consideration of works not yet made public, the results of the AHS were not taken into consideration.”

The senator said several excuses have been given as to why the AHS has not been published. Those include space constraints and that there was too much material in the study to fit into one scientific paper.

“I am not familiar with any concerns for space or too much content as being prohibitive in publishing a publicly-funded study,” said the senator, who says he became interested in the subject because of the widespread use of Roundup in his home state of Oklahoma.

“Given the importance of ensuring scientific integrity, I ask for you to look into the status of the AHS, and if the study is complete that you make public all aspects of the study as it relates to glyphosate,” he said. “We have an obligation to make sure that publicly-funded studies, like the AHS, are made available as soon as they are complete.”

15-year reregistration requirement

EPA is currently reviewing glyphosate as part of its 15-year relabeling process for all pesticides. The effort has had several stops and starts, but, last March, an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel said EPA was correct in its finding last year that glyphosate in not a carcinogen.

To read more about glyphosate and the regulatory process, click on http://www.deltafarmpress.com/herbicide/european-agency-says-glyphosate-not-carcinogen.

 

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws

Forrest Laws spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.

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