Glyphosate – Need for a robust and credible scientific assessment of carcinogenicity

A letter signed by the Alliance and 46 environmental, health and cancer orgs as well as unions, scientists and doctors has been sent to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis. It calls on the Commission to ban glyphosate where the public and workes are most exposed, until a full scientific assessment has been completed.

On 12 November, the EU’s food safety authority (EFSA) will publish a key report on the health and environmental risks associated with the world’s most used herbicide, glyphosate. Based on the report, the European Commission will conclude whether glyphosate which the WHO recently classified as a probable cause of cancer  should still be used in the EU.

In addition to EFSA, the EU’s chemicals’ agency (ECHA) has also been tasked to review the health risks of glyphosate. But its report is unlikely to be released before 2017, by which time the EU will have already ruled on the use of glyphosate.

Following an earlier extension for its legal use by three and a half years, the EU’s approval of glyphosate runs out at the end of 2015. The Commission has proposed a further six-month extension to grant EFSA more time for its assessment.

In March 2015, the WHO’s Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen”. A similar classification by the EU would mean it could no longer be used.

EFSA’s assessment and its recommendation to the Commission (to re-authorise or to ban) will be heavily influenced by a draft risk assessment report carried out by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). You can find a leak of the report on cancer risks here. This draft report admits there is evidence of harm, but nonetheless concludes that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. We dispute this conclusion, which puts BfR at odds with IARC, and criticise BfR’s reliance on unpublished studies submitted by glyphosate producers.

In the absence of scientific consensus that glyphosate is not harmful, the Commission has a
responsibility to protect the public and workers from exposure to harm. As long as different
scientific bodies come to different conclusions about the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate it is
the obligation of the European Commission to invoke the precautionary principle. Almost 1.5
million citizens are calling on the EU’s decision makers to apply that principle to glyphosate

Monsanto’s Roundup is one of the most commonly known brands that contain glyphosate. You can find glyphosate products in any garden centre in Europe sold top an unsuspecting public.  They are widely used in farming, forestry, parks, public spaces and private gardens.

The TUC called for urgent action to prevent any workers coming into contact with glyphosate adding that it can also cause irritation and dermatitis and if swallowed may cause corrosion of the throat and can lead to kidney or liver failure. In May this year the GMB issued a Safety Matters briefing for workers on glyphosate urging employers to adapt the precautionary principle and substitute the pesticide immediately while completing a COSHH assessment. The GMB stress this is a severe health risk for workers.

In 2014 PAN UK found that 60% of bread tested in the UK contained the most frequently used weedkiller, glyphosate. And an Argentinian study shockingly discovered 85% of tampons and medical cotton gauze tested contained glyphosate residues.

Link to Greenpeace website.

Alliance supports call to remove Pink Ribbon Blidfold and Ask the Big Question

Press Release
Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold and Ask the Big Question.

Embargo 10 am 1st October

16 international organisations and national groups have signed on to the statement prepared by From Pink to Prevention campaign, which calls on breast cancer charities everywhere to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds and ask why, despite all the money raised, more and more of us are getting this disease? The groups believe we are not getting the full picture on this breast cancer epidemic that has taken us from a 1 in 12 chance of a woman getting the disease in her lifetime in 1995, to a 1 in 8 chance today.

On October 1st, a social media action aims to urge breast cancer charities along with the people who raise funds for the cause each and every year to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds. This action draws attention to the Big Question: why do most breast cancer charities persist in refusing to acknowledge the role of environmental and occupational toxicants by ignoring decades of evidence up to the present day on the link between our lifelong (womb to grave) exposures to toxics and the escalating incidence of breast cancer?

Speaking for From Pink to Prevention Helen Lynn stated: “Seeking better diagnostics and treatment is not mutually exclusive with acting upon the evidence that shows how our profoundly polluted environment, homes and workplaces impact on our bodies and health. The ‘Precautionary Principle’ must be applied to this issue. All women need and deserve a full understanding of all potential risk factors for the disease that threatens women’s lives and health. Breast cancer charities should be leading on this, not refusing to acknowledge the evidence that connects it”.

Each October international funding in the hundreds of millions is raised for breast cancer ‘awareness’. Yet too many Breast Cancer Charities do not acknowledge the environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer, when the evidence is already abundant. Instead, prevention is focused solely on ‘lifestyle’ risk factors such as diet and exercise, while ignoring the potential 60% of breast cancer cases that remain unexplained by the commonly accepted risk factors alone. There is a deafening silence in breast cancer awareness campaigns about the role of chemical, environmental and occupational exposures for breast cancer. Internationally, less than 4% of the global research spending on breast cancer is spent on research into primary prevention of breast cancer and only 2% on exogenous (external) factors like chemical exposure.

Gayle Sulik from Breast Cancer Consortium points out: “The Breast Cancer Consortium highlights that diagnosis and treatment are important, but focusing solely on these aspects of the continuum of care — as most breast cancer awareness initiatives do– will not address the breast cancer epidemic at large.”

The World Health Organisation states that prevention (which is not the same as early detection) offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. However, we do not see this fact reflected in most cancer plans and strategies. We, and the organisations that stand with us, want to see primary prevention (stopping the disease before it starts) equally addressed along with better treatment and care. We demand that those with the power to do so act on what we already know about the links between breast cancer and environmental and occupational exposures.

Gudrun Kemper from Breast Cancer Action Germany says: “As many millions of women are already hyperaware of breast cancer. There is no more need for any pink breast cancer awareness. What is now needed is a fuller more complete picture. Maybe it’s time to change the name of the month to Breast Cancer Prevention Month”.


Alliance for Cancer Prevention: Helen Lynn –
Brighton Breast Cancer Action:
Breast Cancer Consortium: Gayle Sulik –
Breast Cancer Action Germany: Gudrun Kemper –
Breast Cancer Fund: Jeanne Rizzo, RN CEO and President
Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland: Moira Adams –
European Work Hazards Network: Kathy Jenkins –
From Pink to Prevention: Di Ward –
Hazards Campaign: Hilda Palmer – <>
Hazards Magazine: Rory O’Neill –
Onco Grrrls: –
Philippine Breast Cancer Network: Danny Meneses – President – –
Scottish Hazards Campaign:
The Furious Amazons (Le Amazzoni Furiose): Grazia De Michele –
Tipping Point North South: Deborah Burton – <>
Women in Europe for a Common Future: Sascha Gabizon – <>

Notes to Editor:

  1. Overview of some of the scientific evidence on the links between breast cancer and environmental and occupational risk factors.
  2. Some key facts on the escalating incidence of breast cancer.
  3. Research paper: Sutton, P. California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives: Setting a research agenda for prevention. Reproductive Toxicology 54 (2015) 11–18.
  4. World Health Organisation – Asturias Declaration.
  5. A continually-updated, annotated bibliography of occupational cancer research produced.
  6. Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold Petition.
  7. Information for action on removing the pink ribbon blindfold.
  8. Flickr group.

For More Information
Helen Lynn (UK) : +44(0)7960 033687
Deborah Burton (UK) : +44(0)7779 203455
Diana Ward (AU) : +61(0)400640144



Greater risk of breast cancer from certain occupations, time to put breast cancer put of work.

A new report from Breast Cancer Fund called Working Women and Breast Cancer: State of the Evidence, uncovers elevated breast cancer risk for working women. The report discovered over 20 occupations which carry a higher risk of breats cancer compared to the risk for the general population. They are:

  • Nurses – Up to 50% higher risk than for the general population
  • Teachers – Up to double the risk
  • Librarians, lawyers, journalists and other professionals – Up to 4 times higher risk
  • First responders (police, firefighters, military personnel) – Up to 2.5 times higher risk
  • Food and beverage production workers – Up to 5 times higher risk
  • Hairdressers and cosmetologists – Up to 5 times higher risk
  • Manufacturing and machinery workers – Up to 3 times higher risk
  • Doctors, physicians and other medical workers excluding nurses – Up to 3.5 times greater risk

Currently occupation is not considered a risk factor by most of the breast cancer charities. Shift work having only recently made it onto their radar. What are the implications for the non-consideration given to occupation by the cancer establishment? The continual focus on lifestyle risk factors will do nothing to stem the flow of breast cancer cases if occupational and environmental infleuncers are not taken into consideration. Have you ever been asked about your occupation when you visit your doctor? There is much we can do by way of prevention in the workplace using current legislation, much can be done by trade unions and activists to draw attention to this. The breast cancer establishment needs to recognise and address occupational breast cancer as a priority. Current cancer strategies need to focus on primary prevention of occupational and environmental risk factors. Not to do so would be to condemn thousands of women to a needless breast cancer diagnosis and death from breast cancer. We need greater emphasis on primary prevention, alongside better treatment and care if we are ever to see the end of the breast cancer epidemic.

Alliance joins with EU organisations to call for serious discussion on the future of Glyphosate in the EU

In a follow up to a letter sent in April to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, calling for the suspension of Glyphosate for public and professional use as a precautionary measure. The alliance has signed a subsequent letter initiated by Greenpeace and signed by Friends of the Earth Europe, the Health and Environment Alliance, and Pesticide Action Network Europe. The letter addresses our concerns regarding the scope of the EU Commission’s request to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings on glyphosate.

Glyphosate is used in a large number of weedkillers and is the most commonly used weedkiller in the world. It is sold by the original manufacturer, Monsanto, as Roundup, although it is found in other brands such as Bayer, Rosate and Rodeo. It is also used in a lot of supermarket and garden centre own-brands.

Workers face particular risk due to frequent exposure. No workers should be put at risk of exposure to any substance that can lead to cancer. All substances that could be hazardous to health are covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). These state that the employer must try to prevent exposure totally. If that is not possible they should control it so the risk of harm is ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’

Glyphosate is used widely in parks, gardens footpaths, railway line and in forestry in the UK. There is no requirement to notify the general public of spraying. The only evidence of spraying maybe dry and browning vegetation. This is real health issue to people and animals using public parks. Small children are especially at risk due to their close contact with the ground and their frequence hand to mouth gestures. Dogs are also at risk due to sniffing and eating grasses.

EFSA has been charged with doing a peer review of the findings by IARC on the potential carcinogenicity of glyphosate or glyphosate-containing plant protection products. The Commission requested EFSA to ‘ “investigate the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate raised by IARC” and whether an amendment to the original proposal in regard to the classification of glyphosate is neccesary.

The letter outlines our concerns that the scope of the request is too narrow and that establishing a ‘firm causality’ would be difficult when IARC itself classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2A), not as “carcinogenic to humans” (Class 1). It has found “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans” as well as “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals”, but not “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans”. We therefore believe that it is unrealistic to expect that EFSA will establish “a firm causality” between human exposure and the development of cancer when IARC did not.

The letter asks the Commission to revise the EFSA request. The signed letter

The Alliance has also joined 308 other organisations in an appeal calling for a ban on Highly Hazardous Pesticide (HHPs). Decades of experience has shown that, despite numerous ‘safe use’ programs, the ’safe use’ of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) is not possible.

People, farm animals, wildlife and the environment continue to suffer considerable harm from HHPs. After decades of failure which have seen millions of deaths worldwide, new policies are needed to stop pesticide poisonings. A progressive phase out and ban of HHPs, along with new policies for supporting alternatives, can make a change towards a healthy and sustainable world for all. We call on governments and corporations to take concrete steps towards a progressive ban of HHPs and their substitution with ecosystem-based alternatives.

Please sign the petition here.

The Trade Unions Congress is calling for union safety reps to ensure workers are not exposed to a cancer-causing pesticide. No workers should be put at risk of exposure to any substance that can lead to cancer. A new briefing says because of the unquestionable risks posed by glyphosate, which can also cause short- and long-term skin, eye and respiratory problems and serious liver and kidney damage, it is “necessary to try to prevent any workers coming into contact with glyphosate.”

A study in New York found evidence of cancer link with park spraying. But advice to spray yet more chemicals to clean children’s hands means more exposure to susbtances like antibacterials.

To find out how one company has control of so much of the worlds food supply check out this great video from The Undercurrent.

The best solution – avoid pesticide usage altogether.

NGO call for EDCs to be excluded from TTIP negotiations

The ACP has joined with twenty seven NGOs in sending a joint letter to Bernd Lange MEP chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA). The committee will vote on the 28th May on whether chemicals will be included or excluded from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP. We are seriously concerned that TTIP could weaken current public health and environment standards for toxic chemicals and impede the development of new standards.

The joint letter calls on the INTA to support the opinion of the ENVI Committee to exclude chemicals from the scope of TTIP, and to integrate this in their final resolution to be voted upon on 28 May 2015.

Only yesterday US Senate rejected the Fast Track Bill which would give President Obama Fast Track powers to rush TTIP through. Which is the first hurdle its progress through the US legislative process. News item here.

Joint Letter on TTIP and EDCs

If you expose us, we’ll expose you

The International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow pledged today that if you expose us, we’ll expose you. The pledge relates to the fact that most occupational cancer deaths could be prevented if measures to prevent them were not blocked, “a mixture of toxic marketing and regulatory failure has already condemned another generation to an early grave”.

Instead of action on prevention we are faced with “a toxic cocktail of denial and deceit that means more people than at any time in history will develop tumours caused by their job”.

It seems like manufactured doubt about hazards and risk factors win out: “a process of paralysis by analysis. Wherever stricter controls are proposed, industry representatives or their hired guns appear, challenging the science and predicting an economic catastrophe”.

The International Labour Organisation puts occupational cancer deaths at over 660,000/year. Womens cancer are largely ignored, compensation becomes a myth and corruption flourishes, people before profit becomes business as usual. Surely its time to get serious about occupational cancer in fact all preventable cancer linked to exposures. This pledge is in stark contrast to the statement of intent from our cancer task force – which completly ignores occupational cancer, or any cancer not thought to be ‘lifestyle ‘related.

Read the full ITUC pledge here:


New guide from the ITUC on Toxic work – stop deadly exposures today sets out why we want to remove toxic exposures from the workplace and how.

A new workplace cancer website, supported by the ITUC and produced by Hazards and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention.

It provides all the latest news on occupational cancer, including emerging scientific evidence and union initiatives.

Find out more about activities on the 28th April International Workers Memorial Day #IWMD15

NGOs call for withdrawal of Glyphosate

The letter calls for a withdrawal of the use of glyphosate, as a precautionary measure, where potential for worker and public exposure is particularly high. Greenpeace European Unit, Pan Europe, the Health and Environment Alliance , Friends of the Earth Europe and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention  signed up to the letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis.

This is due to the fact that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, has recently classified the pesticide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2A). This designation significantly alters the risk profile associated with the various uses of glyphosate. In the past glyphosate has also been linked with causing birth defects, reproductive and developmental abonormalities, DNA damage, and adverse effects to the immune system.

Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in Europe and, together with its major metabolite AMPA, has been found in soils, waters, and in items of food. At present, however, there is no systematic surveillance monitoring in place to determine human exposure and any subsequent impacts upon human health. Ultimately, further assessment may indicate that more restrictions are necessary for other uses of glyphosate in agricultural production in order to protect agricultural workers, people in rural areas and consumers. Workers health is seriously put at risk during spraying.

Glyphosate is used to largely to prevent weeds which cause “trip hazards and physical damage to surfacing as well as block sightlines, trap litter and look unsightly”. But the ACP believes the public should be informed as to which they prefer, weeds or a potential cancer risk in their streets and parks.

There is no notification or signage required to alert the public if glyphosate has been sprayed – many local authorities use it because its not percieved as a treat to public health. This means park users specifically small children and dogs may inadvertently come into close contact with sprayed areas. Roundup is also sold in many garden centres around the UK for amateur use.

Seriously time to retire this harmful pesticide from all uses.

Letter can be seen here

Pan UK information on glyphosate.





International Workers Memorial Day 2015 #IWMD15

International Workers’ Memorial Day * Journée Internationale de Commémoration (JIC) des travailleurs décédés et blessés  * Jornada Internacional de Conmemoración (JIC) de los Trabajadores Fallecidos y Heridos

28th April 2015 is International Workers Memorial Day with an new website launched to capture all the acitivities and commenorations

Events this year will focus on prevention of the harm caused by toxic substances at work, with many trade union and occupational and environmental health campaign organisations worldwide putting an explicit focus on cancer prevention.

The 28 April campaign slogan is : “TOXIC WORK – STOP DEADLY EXPOSURES TODAY!”

Please share widely and get involved and dont forget to send details of your event to the website

The International Trade Union Confederation have put together a very useful booklet on Toxic Work: Stop Deadly Exposures Today!

You can download it here