New Brunswick

Glyphosate report shows no increased health risk: Dr. Jennifer Russell

The government has released its long-awaited report on the use of glyphosate and it says there is "no increased risk for New Brunswickers exposed to glyphosate."

Environmental activists had been calling for release of long-awaited report for more than 7 months

Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting chief medical officer of health for New Brunswick, says “We acknowledge that some uncertainty about glyphosate exists, but based on our review, exposures in New Brunswick are similar to or less than elsewhere." (CBC)

The provincial government has released its long-awaited report on the use of glyphosate and it says there is "no increased risk for New Brunswickers exposed to glyphosate."

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the acting chief medical officer of health, said in a written statement the government acknowledges that "some uncertainty about glyphosate exists."

But based on its review, she said exposures here "are similar to or less than elsewhere."

Russell said no additional actions are required to protect human health as rules for glyphosate use are more stringent in New Brunswick.

Glyphosate is a herbicide commonly used in household garden weed killers but is also used by farmers and industry to control undergrowth.

Russell found no risk to human health by the region's biggest user, the New Brunswick forestry industry, which accounts for 61 per cent of the glyphosate used in the province and is the the second biggest per capita user of glyphosate in the forestry sector in Canada, after Ontario.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer says glyphosate "is probably carcinogenic to humans."

Russell said the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency is continuing its risk assessment and her office will monitor the situation.

Dr. Eilish Cleary, the former chief medical officer of health, was working on the glyphosate study when she was placed on leave last year, prompting environmental activists to speculate she was being silenced.

After Cleary was fired in December, the deputy minister of health, Tom Maston, released a statement that the decision was not "about the medical and scientific work being undertaken by the office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health."

Cleary said recently there's not a good enough understanding of chemicals, such as glyphosate, in public health.

Russell says the scientific consensus on glyphosate risk is "elusive."


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