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28 March 2017

Bad News for Global Cancer Research Agency

A butcher cuts beef at a market in Buenos Aires.  The
International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC)
work classifying things like bacon, plutonium and wood 
dust as carcinogens relies most heavily onNIH funding.
Eitan Abramovich/AFP via Getty Images
"IARC’s priorities until 2019 include reviewing the potential carcinogenicity of bisphenol A (used in plastics), the sweetener aspartame, indium tin oxide (widely used in displays, laptop screens and mobile phones) and e-cigarettes — all of which generate a lot of business."

Bad news for the bad-news agencyby Natalie Huet, politico.eu, 17 March 2017,
Updated 20 March 2017

Global cancer research agency says industry is on a drive to disparage its findings as fake news amid uncertainty about crucial US funding.

LYON, France — As President Donald Trump raises the axe on U.S. medical research funding, scientists across the Atlantic are trembling, too.

The World Health Organization’s cancer agency, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has long been a prime purveyor of bad news. Now, with big business blasting it as fake news and Republicans in total control, U.S. funding crucial for IARC’s work is under threat.

A perfect storm is brewing. On Thursday, Trump unveiled a FY2018 budget that would chop $6 billion, or nearly 20 percent, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). IARC’s work classifying things like bacon, plutonium and wood dust as carcinogens relies most heavily on NIH funding. The chemical lobby recently launched a campaign portraying IARC as a useless scaremonger that ignores actual human exposure to potential hazards, and U.S. lawmakers are already investigating whether taxpayers’ money should be funding its work.

The industry’s attacks on IARC’s science pose a “real risk,” said the agency’s director, Christopher Wild, in an interview. “It plays into that populist view of experts telling us that everything is bad for us, and therefore let’s ignore all that information.”

IARC has been under fire from all sides ever since it classified the main ingredient in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup as a probable cause of cancer, two years ago. The finding put it at odds with a growing list of EU regulators. Both the food safety agency and, as of Wednesday, the chemicals regulators have deemed glyphosate safe, fueling an ongoing political drama over whether to keep the herbicide on the market.

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