On February 6, 2018, the U.S. Congress’ Committee on Science, Space, & Technology held a hearing that focused on the scientific integrity of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC). The hearing relates to the ongoing debate about the possible discontinuation of the U.S. government’s funding for IARC.

As summarized by reporter Frank Zaworski in his article published on February 8, 2018 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, the hearing “focused on claims of data manipulation” in IARC’s assessment of the herbicide glyphosate. The witnesses that testified against IARC talked of “selective use of data and the lack of public disclosure.” The witnesses that testified in defense of IARC argued that “the controversy over glyphosate is emblematic of industry efforts to attack independent scientists.”

In an open statement published in January this year, IARC’s director Christopher Wild maintained that IARC monograph evaluations “make use of the latest scientific data and methodologies” and are “transparent and open to scrutiny.” He further explained that the IARC follows the practice of considering “only publicly available studies” because this enables others “to scrutinize the basis of its decisions rather than relying on appeals to authority or trust,” and because “transparency is fundamental to the scientific process.” He further emphasized that IARC monographs “identify carcinogenic hazards and do not include a risk assessment”, which would also take exposure routes and levels into account.

In the U.S., IARC’s work has wide implications. For example, IARC-denoted carcinogens are also listed as such under the Proposition 65 law in California, requiring that products containing these chemicals are labeled to warn consumers.

Read more

U.S. Committee on Science, Space, & Technology (February 6, 2018). “Full committee hearing – In defense of scientific integrity: Examining the IARC monograph program and glyphosate review.

Christopher Wild (January 2018). “IARC response to criticisms of the Monographs and the glyphosate evaluation.” IARC (pdf)

ACC (January 25, 2018). “CAPHR coalition launches to advocate for reform of IARC monographs program.

ACC (February 1, 2018). “ACC supports house science committee hearing to investigate scientific integrity of IARC monographs program.

ACC (February 5, 2018). “CAPHR coalition applauds house science committee hearing on IARC’s troubled monographs program.

ACC (February 7, 2018). “House science hearing puts spotlight on IARC’s monographs credibility crisis.

Julie Miller (February 5, 2018). “Industry, lawmakers step up IARC monograph campaign in US.Chemical Watch

Frank Zaworski (February 8, 2018). “Critics and defenders of cancer research agency spar at US hearing.Chemical Watch

Carey Gillam (February 6, 2018). “Science committee hearing targets cancer scientists, betrays public interest.”  EcoWatch