The EU Commission's proposal to renew the authorisation for the herbicide glyphosate is published today (1). The proposal is for 10 years, so if a qualified majority of Member States agree, glyphosate use in the EU would be allowed until 2033. This would be in stark contrast to the will of the Europeans. Five years ago 1 Million citizens formally asked for a ban and a recent IPSOS opinion poll in 6 EU countries shows that only a mere 14% of citizens agree with prolonged use. Meanwhile, there are serious concerns about the safety assessments by EU Chemical Authority ECHA and Food Safety Authority EFSA. Top scientists explained serious flaws and shortcomings in the assessment in a hearing in the EU Parliament, for glyphosate, the formulation product MON 52276 and its ingredients. PAN Europe also identified that a series of EFSA findings make glyphosate re-approval opposed to EU law (2). The EU Member States will discuss the proposal this Friday and vote on October 12th.
Dr Angeliki Lysimachou, Head of Science and Policy at PAN Europe, said: “The Regulators are moving full speed without listening to citizens’ concerns and independent science. Industry interests clearly prevail over health and the environment. The EU pesticide law is violated and citizens across EU countries will be outraged by this news.”
Poll in six EU countries: citizens do not support glyphosate renewal
In a recent IPSOS poll across 6 EU countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Spain), citizens clearly showed their opposition to the renewal of glyphosate. Only a mere 14% is in favour of prolonged use of glyphosate. Two-thirds (62%) of EU citizens in these countries responded that the use of glyphosate should be banned in Europe. Among the 6 countries, France had the highest percentage of citizens (70.5%) in favour of a ban. (3)
Carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, neurotoxicity
A recent study by toxicologist experts revealed that ECHA dismissed important carcinogenicity findings and neglected evidence that glyphosate induces oxidative stress, a recognised mechanism that can lead to cancer. EFSA, in its conclusions, wrongfully relied on ECHA's classification of glyphosate as 'non-carcinogenic'. This is a critical failure since accepting this scientific evidence would inevitably lead to the conclusion that the glyphosate authorisation cannot be prolonged under EU law. (4)
An expert meeting in the EU Parliament this week revealed that there are several other important flaws in the work of ECHA and EFSA. Genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, neurotoxicity, damage to the gut microbiome and many very harmful effects on soil, water and biodiversity are not properly assessed. This is partly due to the outdated and very biased and industry-friendly approach to the implementation of the guidelines that are used in these assessments. A review of the most recent independent science gives a completely different picture of the harm done by glyphosate and its formulations. Professor Michael Antoniou from Kings College London sighed: “When will regulators stop living in the dark ages and come into the 21st century?”
The EU agencies are also misleading the public as the toxicity of the whole product (representative formulation) has not been thoroughly assessed by the applicants. There are data gaps for certain ingredients and others are potentially carcinogenic, while peer-reviewed studies indicate that the formulation used in Europe (MON 52276) causes a range of adverse effects to animal studies. Therefore re-approving glyphosate is a violation of the EU law and case law according to which a pesticide shall be approved only if it’s shown that it causes no carcinogenicity or long-term toxicity. (Summary available on PAN Europe website soon)
The Commission proposal
The proposed authorisation period is 10 years instead of the original 15 years asked by the producers, where the uses for pre-harvest desiccation shall not be authorised.
The use for pre-harvest desiccation is a dangerous and outdated use, already restricted in several EU countries. This practice should have been banned long ago for all herbicides, so it is not exactly a concession.
The 10-year permit would be a disaster for human health and the environment.
Overall, the proposal includes several non-legally binding suggestions to the Member States, which are bound to fail to ensure a high level of protection for human health and biodiversity, as required by the EU law.
Contact: Dr Angeliki Lysimachou, +32 496 39 29 30, angeliki [at] pan-europe.info
(2) Letter by PAN Europe to the EU Commission: EFSA main findings on glyphosate