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9th Aug 2020

MEPs urge Juncker not to renew glyphosate licence

  • Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the world's most widely used weedkiller. (Photo: Jacob Bøtter)

A group of MEPs has asked the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, not to renew the marketing authorisation of glyphosate, the world's most widely used weedkiller.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said last week that there isn't enough scientific evidence to prove that glyphosate causes cancer.

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) came to the same conclusion in November 2015.

But 30 MEPs, in a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker dated Friday (24 March), questioned the trustworthiness of one of the studies used by EFSA for its assessment.

The study was co-written by a former employee of Monsanto, the US company that markets glyphosate under the brand name Roundup.

The lawmakers also refer to an ongoing US court case, which has disclosed internal emails from Monsanto. These emails, which have been dubbed the "Monsanto Papers" by French daily Le Monde, suggest that Monsanto had ghost-written research that was later attributed to academics.

The information revealed through the emails also suggests that Monsanto knew already in 1999 that glyphosate could cause cancer.

The European Commission granted a temporary licence to glyphosate last June, after EU member states remained deadlocked on the terms of a regular renewal.

The temporary licence will expire six months after ECHA formally submits its opinion to the commission, sometime in 10-15 weeks time.

The MEPs asked the commission not to propose any new approval of glyphosate in the EU until ECHA and EFSA have checked the validity of some of the studies used in their assessments of glyphosate.

They also called for a black list of companies that "use lies as a common policy", a ban on undisclosed contact between EU officials and any lobbyist working with or for Monsanto, and a full investigation into whether Monsanto has deliberately falsified studies on the safety of glyphosate.

Green MEPs initiated the letter that was also signed by their colleagues from centre-right, centre-left, far-left groups and Italy's Five Star Movement.

The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a "probable carcinogen" in 2015.

Doubts over EU chemical agency after weedkiller study

Green MEPs and health pressure groups said the European Chemicals Agency could be suffering from conflicts of interest, after it said there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the world's most widely used weedkiller causes cancer.

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Member states did not agree on conditions to renew the permit for the chemical used in pesticides, amid contradictory evidence on a possible cancer link.

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