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Glyphosate: The WHO says it’s probably carcinogenic, but what about the EU?

In March, the World Health Organisation classified the widely-used herbicide Glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. CHEM Trust has joined with over 45 organisations to send a letter to EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, urging him to take precautionary action on the use of glyphosate, given these ongoing discussions regarding its carcinogenic properties.

In the letter we express our concern about an assessment for the renewal of glyphosate’s EU authorisation which has been produced by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which has been criticised for downplaying positive findings of carcinogenicity. The BfR report aims to form the basis for a re-approval of glyphosate in Europe, as the current authorization expires this year and has recently been extended to June 2016. However, EU pesticide law states that pesticide active substances which are classified as carcinogenic under EU law should not be approved for use.

The letter calls on the Health Commissioner to:

  • Ask the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to carry out a thorough analysis of glyphosate’s carcinogenicity and other relevant endpoints as part of its forthcoming assessment of the harmonised classification and labelling of this substance;
  • Ensure that the peer review of the BfR report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is scientifically robust and credible, incorporating the outcome of the harmonised classification and labelling;
  • Immediately impose a ban on the use of glyphosate in applications where it results in the greatest public and worker exposure, either directly or through residues in food.

Ninja Reineke, Senior Policy Adviser to CHEM Trust, said:

“Given our widespread exposure to glyphosate, the WHO’s classification of glyphosate as probable carcinogen is highly concerning. Several shops have already started taking products with glyphosate from their shelves. When will the Commission get active and take precautionary measures to protect our health?”