Re-assessment of harmful herbicide silently postponed in Europe

Brussels / Amsterdam

Time has come to round up glyphosate!

The European Commission has delayed a planned re-assessment of glyphosate, a potentially harmful chemical used as a herbicide, to allow chemical companies a three-year extension to complete applications. The Commission has also postponed the re-assessment of 38 other pesticides used in agriculture all over Europe [1].

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN) and Greenpeace today filed a complaint before the General Court of the European Union challenging the Commission’s decision, which ignores growing evidence on the harmful effects of glyphosate on health and the environment.  The re-assessment of the 39 pesticides should have taken place between May 2011 and December 2012 but was postponed to December 2015.  

Since the authorisation of glyphosate in Europe in 2001, an alarming amount of scientific studies have shown that it can have serious adverse effects on human and animal health and on the environment [2]. The current authorisation of glyphosate is based on old safety tests mainly carried out by chemical companies, which lack the necessary independence. In addition, the tests are no longer up to date. In light of recent scientific findings, the safety of glyphosate-derived products must be urgently re-assessed. Postponing such an essential safety test means blatantly ignoring strong scientific evidence, say PAN and Greenpeace.

Hans Muilerman of PAN-Europe said: “This Commission Directive opens a backdoor to allow further market access to pesticides based on the findings of very old studies and violates EU pesticide regulation which gives priority to the protection of human health over commercial interests.

Glyphosate is the most used herbicide in the world. Its use at global level has substantially increased because of the introduction of glyphosate-tolerant genetically modified (GM) crops. Chemical companies such as Monsanto sell both glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup, and GM seeds, which are able to withstand high doses of Roundup. The amount of glyphosate used on Roundup-tolerant crops is constantly and steeply increasing because of the development of weeds increasingly tolerant to the toxic herbicide.

“Mounting scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that glyphosate-based products can have adverse impacts on human health and the environment“, said Herman van Bekkem, agriculture expert for Greenpeace in the Netherlands. “The European Commission needs to rigorously and urgently assess the safety of glyphosate instead of caving in to the pressure of the pesticides industry”.

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Background notes:

[1] COMMISSION DIRECTIVE 2010/77/EU of 10 November 2010 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC as regards the expiry dates for inclusion in Annex I of certain active substances. Available online at:

[2] Dozens of recent studies give cause for concern on the potential health effects of glyphosate, such as cancer, DNA-damage and hormone disruption. French scientists led by Prof. Seralini showed disruption of the hormonal system in embryos causing disruption of the cell membrane and death. In Argentina, Prof.Carrasco and his team of scientists showed malformations of frog embryos when exposed to glyphosate. Greenpeace will soon publish a detailed report investigating the health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and its relationship with herbicide-tolerant GM crops.

PANE and Greenpeace Application for annulment

For further information please contact:

Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe, hans [at],Tel: +31 (0)6-55807255

Herman van Bekkem, Greenpeace Netherlands, hvbekkem [at] Tel: +31-(0)6-29001140

© PAN Europe, Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

PAN Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, Life+ programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.