IARC deliver confusing and unconstructive list of potential carcinogens

    23 March 2015

    23 March 2015 (Canberra) – The International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) decision to list five pesticides as “possible” or “probable” carcinogens contradicts the comprehensive scientific assessment of expert regulators around the world.

    The pesticides have been added to a list of substances and activities that includes aloe vera, coffee, pickled vegetables and being a hairdresser or carpenter.

    “IARC ratings are based on an incomplete, cherry-picked data review, that has omitted key evidence,” said Matthew Cossey, Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia.

    “Its conclusion is contrary to the broad consensus reached by numerous respected international regulatory bodies, which carry out extensive, scientific reviews.

    “Around the world pesticides are assessed and regulated by expert scientific authorities, such as the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. The pesticide registration process involves years of data collection and comprehensive assessment before approvals are granted and a product can be sold on the Australian market. The weight of scientific evidence shows that pesticides do not cause cancer.

    The IARC results also contradict the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) which is an internationally recognized expert body administered jointly by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and IARC’s parent body, the World Health Organization. The JMPR is made up of the world’s foremost toxicology specialists and has also approved the safety of these pesticides.

    “A recent study by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety and University of Sydney found that incidence of cancer is lower in farmers, who have the highest level of exposure to pesticides, than the general population. This study reflects similar findings overseas.

    “Given that the IARC have ranked the pesticides in the same categories as coffee and aloe vera, which many of us are exposed to or consume every day, reflects the inadequate and misleading nature of its method of assessment.

    “Every agricultural chemical product registered in Australia goes through a thorough scientific, evidence-based risk assessment, which assess any hazards associated with the product and determines the relevant risks to users, consumers and the environment. This process is far more scientifically rigorous than that carried out by the IARC.

    “It is important to note that the IARC has not undertaken or considered any new research or data that has not previously been assessed by expert regulators around the world.

    “The World Health Organization needs to explain how the IARC is able to reach conclusions that are contrary to countless scientific studies without any additional evidence,” concluded Mr Cossey.

    Contact: Jaelle Bajada (Manager – Public Affairs)  Ph: 02 6230 6399  Mob: 0410 491 261