Part of the discrepancy between the international agency’s conclusions and the findings of many other researchers is related to the differences in the questions asked and the way the data was selected and analyzed.
The international agency, in essence, asked if glyphosate has the potential to cause cancer. Their researchers judged the chemical “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” and added it to a list that already included beef, pork, cell phone use, dry cleaning, and night shifts. Glyphosate escaped a stronger classification, “carcinogenic to humans,” which includes bacon, red wine, sun exposure, tobacco, and plutonium.
Government regulators, by contrast, are looking at the risk that glyphosate actually causes cancer given the exposure levels of most people. Sharks, for example, are potentially dangerous. But people who stay out of the water are not at much risk of being attacked.
However, several scientists on both sides of the division acknowledge that there is still much unknown about the long-term effects of such a widely used chemical.
In court, attorneys argued about the available scientific evidence. However, perhaps most damaging to the accused were the revelations that reinforced Monsanto’s image as a company that people love to hate.
Monsanto’s aggressive tactics to sway scientific opinion and discredit critics weaken the company’s credibility. He had targeted hundreds of activists, scientists, journalists, politicians, and even musicians. At one point, a team monitored Neil Young’s social media posts after he released an album, “The Monsanto Years,” in 2015 and a short film that attacked the company and genetically engineered food.
“There is quite a bit of evidence that Monsanto is quite rude on this issue,” Judge Chhabria of the United States District Court in San Francisco said when he reviewed Hardeman’s verdict last summer. “Monsanto did not seem concerned at all about whether glyphosate caused cancer.”