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IARC coffee warning

Chemical Manufacturers Call for WHO Cancer Agency Reform

IARC coffee warningChemical manufacturers say the World Health Organization’s “sensationalist studies” about chemical safety are misleading policy makers and consumers, hurting farmers and manufacturers, and resulting in retailers unnecessarily phasing out certain substances.

To counter this, the American Chemistry Council has launched the Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR), which the trade group says will seek reform of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) monographs program, which evaluates the carcinogenic hazard of substances and behaviors.

The IARC is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), its monographs program “suffers from persistent scientific and process deficiencies that result in public confusion and misinformed policy-making.”

The ACC says IARC doesn’t use realistic exposure scenarios when it comes to informing consumers about a substance’s cancer risk. Instead, it uses exposure levels “far beyond what is typical.”

“The IARC monographs program has been responsible for countless misleading headlines about the safety of the food we eat, the jobs we do and the products we use in our daily lives,” said Cal Dooley, ACC president and CEO. “By offering specific proposals for reform, the CAPHR hopes to play a constructive role in improving the IARC Monographs Program to ensure consumers, public health officials and regulators benefit from more credible and relevant information.”

This program has also led to “marketplace deselection,” the ACC says, pointing to California’s chemical labeling law, Proposition 65, as an example. The ACC and other Prop. 65 opponents have long argued that many of the products and storefronts required to carry Prop. 65 warning labels only pose an “infinitesimal risk” or cancer, birth defects, or reproductive problems as a result of products’ proper use.

Retailers have also used IARC classifications to phase out certain substances, the ACC says.

The EPA and the US Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, have often sided with industry leaders in debates over controversial chemicals, ConsumerAffairs.com reports.

Despite the California EPA’s decision to label glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and a widely used herbicide, as “known to cause cancer,” the EPA has repeatedly ruled that the chemical does not cause cancer.

The FDA, meanwhile, has long maintained Bisphenol-A in food packaging is safe to use in food packaging, despite petitions from some food safety groups.

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