Monsanto announced Tuesday that it will assemble a panel of scientists to review the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) analysis that led to the classification of the herbicide glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic" to humans.
That classification by IARC, an arm of the World Health Organization, in March sparked a fierce rebuttal from the agricultural science community. Monsanto introduced the widely-used glyphosate herbicide Roundup in 1974.
The full monograph, which details how IARC reached its decision, is expected to be released this month.
Monsanto senior scientist Donna Farmer said in a media call that the company is hiring the Intertek Scientific and Regulatory Consultancy to convene the panel that will be made up of more than 10 "independent, globally recognized experts in a range of fields."
Monsanto CEO Brett Begemann said it's important that IARC's monograph "be reviewed carefully to find out how they reached such a different conclusion" about the safety of glyphosate than regulatory agencies around the world.
He emphasized the IARC reviews cancer hazards, but "doesn't assess real world risk or exposure."
Begemann added, "It's a sad day when people are confused about a product that has such an incredible safety record. We hope we can clarify some of that [with this panel] and settle down some of the confusion."
In the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's review of glyphosate, the EPA concluded the herbicide does not pose a risk to human health if used according to instructions on the label.
The German Risk Agency (BfR) is conducting a glyphosate registration review that began in 2012 for the European Union. In an update on the investigation released in January, it said the review "did not provide any indications that glyphosate has carcinogenic [effects]."
Farmer said the Intertek panel will have ultimate control over its schedule, but should conclude its analysis within the next couple of months and will disclose its conclusions for public review.