French court bans Bayer pesticide with glyphosate
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
The herbicide Roundup Pro 360 from Bayer may no longer be sold and used in France. This was decided by the administrative court of the French city of Lyon. The judges argued that the approval of the weedkiller by the ANSES (Food Safety Authority) in 2016 was flawed. Bayer stated that it considered the decision to be wrong and was examining legal options.
Excipients in Roundup Pro more harmful than glyphosate
The judges wrote that scientific studies and animal experiments have shown that Roundup Pro 360 is more toxic than glyphosate due to its composition. The product is potentially carcinogenic to humans and harmful to the environment. Therefore, the authorisation by ANSES violates the precautionary principle that a substance "should only be authorised if there is no serious doubt as to its safety".
The plaintiff, the organisation CRIIGEN, which is critical of genetic engineering, spoke of a "very important decision" which basically affects all Roundup products in France. Roundup Pro 360 consists of 40% glyphosate and "excipients that are about 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate alone", L'Usine Nouvelle quoted CRIIGEN member Gilles-Eric Séralini. ANSES contradicted the accusation that it had not correctly assessed the risk. The authority pointed out that in 2016 it was the first national authority to withdraw marketing authorisation for 126 glyphosate-containing products. These products contained a potentially mutagenic excipient.
French court’s decision as a signal for the whole EU
Although the court's decision concerns only a single Bayer product, it has a signal effect. The EU has approved the active ingredient glyphosate for a further five years. However, within the framework of EU pesticide legislation, it is the task of the national approval authority to approve the ready-to-use pesticide mixtures and thus their use. These mixtures consist of the active substance and numerous excipients that support its effect.
The court's decision underlines that, within the framework of the precautionary principle, it would be the task of the national approval authority also to assess the risks posed by these excipients. In Germany, the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) is currently working on the approval of new herbicides containing glyphosate. Most of the 28 marketing authorisation applications currently pending, concern different Roundup mixtures with different excipients. A product called Roundup Pro 360 is not among them. However, it could also be offered in Germany under a different name.