A Statement by the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics): Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health Committee
Over the past fifteen years, an expanding body of evidence has implicated the role of environmental exposures on health.
Whether scientists are reviewing increased rates of cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, pregnancy outcomes, or birth defects, there is evidence to support the effect of chemical exposures on health. Chemicals in pregnant women can cross the placenta and, as with methyl mercury, can accumulate in the fetus and have long lasting sequelae.
The following statement regarding glyphosate reflects a review of literature and a Precautionary Principle. This principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result. In some legal systems, such as the Law in the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement in some areas of law.
FIGO, who for over sixty-five years has collaborated with the world’s top health bodies including working in official relations with the World Health Organization, and consultative status with the UN, including the United Nations Population Fund and a broad range of other partners including March of Dimes, points out the inherent problem of the production of many types of chemicals, that they are released into the environment and with current policy it is up to the public, the scientists in the public interest and physicians to prove HARM before chemicals are removed from the market. Contrast this approach with the pharmaceutical industry, where they must prove safety before use by the public.
Our priorities should be in establishing safety, now and across generations, prior to exposure to chemical products.
FIGO invokes a Precautionary Principle as noted by the Wingspread Conference:
“When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”
Global health should be our guiding light. We recommend that glyphosate exposure to populations should end with a full global phase out.