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EU safety review on glyphosate still pending

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Although there has been shown clear evidence of the cancerogen potential of the weedkiller glyphosate by the WHO IARC study and the EU Parliament voted against an extension the commission will not accelerate the review. 

”Waiting for all scientists, including those on the pesticide industry's payroll, to agree 100 percent would be reckless," Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director, said. "The Commission must take precautionary action and suspend the use of glyphosate where people are most exposed, either directly or through residues in our food."

Results of Monsanto Tribunal

Several studies and witness statements at the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague in October strengthened former results of the hazards of glyphosate and should lead to an acceleration of the review process and an earlier suspension of the use of glyphosate.

According to European Commission fact sheet this was the timetable for the renewal of the glyphosate approval:

Glyphosate had been under evaluation since 2012 for a possible renewal of the approval, following the procedures laid down in EU legislation on plant protection products (PPPs).

The EU approval of an active substance means that the Member States can authorise plant protection products on their territory, but they are not obliged to do that. Nonetheless, if there is no EU approval, Member States have no choice.

Timeline:

  1. May 2012: Assessment of the active substance by the Rapporteur Member State, in this case Germany. Germany's national authority receives dossier for possible renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate.
  2. December 2013: Germany sends report to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) so that the peer review by EFSA and all Member States can start (January 2014). It includes a public consultation (March 2014); Additional information requested from applicants (August 2014).
  3. February - March 2015: Nationalexperts’ meetings including risk assessors from all 28 Member States' organized by EFSA.
  4. March 2015: Publication of a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on glyphosate - Commission asks EFSA to include it in its peer review.
  5. September 2015: A new experts’ consultation specifically dedicated to carcinogenicity organised by EFSA.
  6. October 2015: Glyphosate approval provisionally extended until June 2016, pending finalization of the EU peer review.
  7. November 2015: Publication of EFSA's conclusion.
  8. May 2015: The Joint UN Food and Agriculture Organisation/ World Health Organisation Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) publish their risk assessment on glyphosate.
  9. June 2016: No qualified majority from the Member States at either the Standing Committee (6 June) or the Appeal Committee (24 June).
  10. End June 2016: End of the provisional extension at EU level of the active substance glyphosate. Commission extends approval of the substance, under certain conditions.

In all, the EU's assessment of glyphosate has taken 3 years, involving public sector scientific experts from EU's agencies (EFSA and ECHA) and national authorities in all 28 Member States.

27 Member States agree with EFSA's conclusion on carcinogenicity (Sweden was in favour of another classification).

 


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