Controversial weed killer glyphosate cleared by European Chemicals Agency

stop eating glyphosate

The controversy over the chemical weed killer glyphosate continues.  On 15 March the European Chemicals Agency/ECHA ruled that it was not a carcinogen and is thus safe for public use.

This comes after years of numerous conflicting reports from scientists, governments, NGOs and international organizations.  Amongst them:

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.

See also: BMJ Global Health, Differences in the carcinogenic evaluation of glyphosate between the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

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.