New meta-analysis of glyphosate-based plant protection products does not alter the assessment of the active substance
Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung – The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
If used properly and for its intended purpose, glyphosate is not carcinogenic. This was the conclusion arrived at by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and numerous other national and international authorities. A new meta-analysis in which already published studies are evaluated collectively does not alter the assessment of the BfR.
In the meta-analysis, Luoping Zhang, University of California, Berkeley, and her team pursued the question of whether people who used plant protection products containing glyphosate (such as farmers and gardeners) had an increased risk of contracting Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), a form of lymph node cancer. To this end, the scientists evaluated updated data from the ”Agricultural Health Study” (AHS), a large-scale cohort study, and five casecontrol studies.
The researchers’ analysis concluded that people who had the greatest exposure to plant protection products containing glyphosate contracted NHL more often than persons with lower or no exposure. This result is supported, in the view of the authors, by previous experiments with animals and “mechanistic” studies in which the causes were sought. It is suggested that there is a “compelling” link between the uptake of glyphosate-based plant protection products and an increased risk of NHL.
The BfR has a different opinion. Although the meta-analysis with its reference to glyphosatebased plant protection products is interesting from a scientific point of view, it involves great uncertainty: It could not be determined with sufficient accuracy in the studies how much glyphosate the study participants were actually exposed to. It should also be taken into account that according to the current state of knowledge, farmers in the USA can come in closer contact with plant protection products containing glyphosate (e.g. because larger areas are treated or because it is often sprayed from aircraft)