This comes after years of numerous conflicting reports from scientists, governments, NGOs and international organizations. Amongst them:
- The World Health Organization’s Cancer Agency The International Agency for Research on Cancer/IARC reported in 2015 that glyphosate was ‘probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)’.
- The European Food Safety Authority/EFSA in 2015 said glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.The IARC condemned EFSA’s assessment, saying there were serious flaws in EFSA’s evaluation.
- In 2016 the World Health Organization along with the Food and Agriculture Organization contradicted the WHO/IARC 2015 report by publishing another assessment saying this time that glyphosate was ‘unlikely’ to cause cancer.
- An award-winning US Environment Protection Agency scientist Marion Copley claimed in a letter (released March 2017 after her death) that “Glyphosate is genotoxic, a key cancer mechanism”, saying it was ‘essentially certain’ it was carcinogenic.
Clear? There is no smoke without fire.
The ECHA concedes that glyphosate does cause serious eye damage and is toxic for aquatic life, with long lasting effects, but it also adds that the product is not mutagenic, nor toxic for reproduction…
NGOs such as Greenpeace, Generations futures,and Phyto Victimes in France – amongst many others internationally – have fiercely condemned this latest ECHA assessment, claiming that all the data available points to the carcinogenic nature of the weed killer. Accusations of conflicts of interests have been leveled at ECHA (some members of the ECHA team had worked for chemical firms either directly or indirectly). The above mentioned EPA scientist warned in her letter that scientists are likely being bribed by Monsanto and that political posturing needs to be tackled. More on this can be found in this litigation document online.
The agrochemical industry has, unsurprisingly, welcomed the new ECHA ruling. It is to be noted that the ruling ironically coincides with the declassification this month of Monsanto’s internal correspondence – 250 pages of it – (declassified by the US Federal justice system) showing that Monsanto was already seriously worrying about the glysophate’s mutagenic and cancerous potential as far back as 1997. See reports in The New York Times and Le Monde.
France has banned glyphosate in public places since January 2017. EC countries mandated the ECHA to carry out this latest study after they cast serious doubts on EFSA’s 2016 positive recommendation.
In Europe, re-approval – or not – of the weed killer has been suspended until December 2017, with the present French Minister for the Environment pressurizing countries to continue to refuse the use of glyphosate.
A European petition is circulating, calling for a European ban on glyphosate and for strict regulations to reduce the use of pesticides. You can sign it here.