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merry-go-roundup

EPA weighs in on the cancer risks of controversial pesticide.

The agency found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, likely doesn’t cause cancer. Glyphosate is politicized because several major crops have been genetically modified to work with it.

Back in March of 2015, an agency in the World Health Organization said that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen, a finding that made a major news splash — you probably saw something on social media about it. You’re less likely to have seen the news that, since then, several other regulators found that glyphosate was not likely to cause cancer: There was another WHO agency, the European Food Safety Agency, and now the EPA.

Why the disparity? The International Agency for Research on Cancer — that’s the WHO agency that determined the chemical was a probable carcinogen — asks the worst-case scenario question. As risk scientist Andrew Maynard explains in this video, the agency asks, “Is there any way a rock can kill you?” not “Is a rock likely to kill you?”

A few months after IARC classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen,” it said that bacon was a “known carcinogen.” With any luck, a few months from now the EPA will be telling us that bacon is OK too.