Evaluation of carcinogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate, drawing on tumor incidence data from fourteen chronic/carcinogenicity rodent studies
Glyphosate, an herbicidal derivative of the amino acid glycine, was introduced to agriculture in the 1970s. Glyphosate targets and blocks a plant metabolic pathway not found in animals, the shikimate pathway, required for the synthesis of aromatic amino acids in plants. After almost forty years of commercial use, and multiple regulatory approvals including toxicology evaluations, literature reviews, and numerous human health risk assessments, the clear and consistent conclusions are that glyphosate is of low toxicological concern, and no concerns exist with respect to glyphosate use and cancer in humans. This manuscript discusses the basis for these conclusions. Most toxicological studies informing regulatory evaluations are of commercial interest and are proprietary in nature. Given the widespread attention to this molecule, the authors gained access to carcinogenicity data submitted to regulatory agencies and present overviews of each study, followed by a weight of evidence evaluation of tumor incidence data. Fourteen carcinogenicity studies (nine rat and five mouse) are evaluated for their individual reliability, and select neoplasms are identified for further evaluation across the data base. The original tumor incidence data from study reports are presented in the online data supplement. There was no evidence of a carcinogenic effect related to glyphosate treatment. The lack of a plausible mechanism, along with published epidemiology studies, which fail to demonstrate clear, statistically significant, unbiased and non-confounded associations between glyphosate and cancer of any single etiology, and a compelling weight of evidence, support the conclusion that glyphosate does not present concern with respect to carcinogenic potential in humans.