The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

European Food Safety Authority to publish conclusions on glyphosate by end year

Duncan Barry Sunday, 20 September 2015, 09:05 Last update: about 5 years ago

The European Food Safety Authority is to publish its conclusions on glyphosate use in the next few months and will take into account the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) study on the active ingredient, The Malta Independent on Sunday has learnt.

The IARC is a branch of the World Health Organisation.

The EFSA plays a key role in the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment. According to Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who confirmed with this newsroom that EFSA is looking into a possible renewal of this active substance, the European Commission will only take a stand on this issue when EFSA completes its review on IARC’s assessment.

Sales of the herbicide produced by Monsanto must stop in December if not given re-authorisation. The Commission proposed to extend marketing to June of next year.

Last month, this newspaper reported that the EU is currently assessing WHO’s IARC research on glyphosate – an active ingredient found in the weed killer known as Roundup, which is produced by Monsanto and widely used in Malta, as well as in other countries.

The EU is expected to re-evaluate glyphosate in terms of the classification of the pesticide’s active ingredient.

This after the IARC said that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans. This is just one step below the risk designation of ‘known carcinogen’. But biotech giant Monsanto had requested WHO to retract its statement.

This week, however, California dealt Monsanto a blow as the state’s Environmental Protection Agency will now list glyphosate – the toxic main ingredient in Roundup – as being known to cause cancer.

Under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm are required to be listed and published by the state. Chemicals also end up on the list if IARC finds them to be carcinogenic.

In comments to this newsroom, the Maltese authorities responsible for the regulation of pesticides had said that it will wait for the European Commission’s position on this issue before it takes a decision on whether to ban the use of glyphosate.

The European Commission has stated that glyphosate, which is an active substance in plant protection products (pesticides), is under evaluation in the Union as regards renewal for approval.


Information on how IARC reached its conclusions still ‘lacking’

This newsroom has been informed that although the Commission has asked EFSA to take IARC’s research into consideration when drawing its conclusions on glyphosate as regards possible renewal, detailed information on how IARC reached its conclusions is still lacking as crucial evidence aspects will only be clarified in the final IARC detailed study, which has not been published so far.


EP key committee rejects Green proposal

A key committee in the European Parliament earlier this week rejected a proposal from Nordic Green Left party members to bring to an end the use of the world’s most popular weed killer.

The Committee on the Environment Public Health and Food Safety voted against the objection raised by ENVI rapporteur Katerina Konecna – a member of the Green Left party, who tried to block the extension of glyphosate. The motion was rejected by 25 votes in favour, 32 against and 10 abstentions.


The WHO report

The WHO report – which was published in the medical journal The Lancet – states that after 17 experts from 11 countries met at the international agency for research and cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of the ingredients used in the herbicide, the experts concluded that the herbicide glyphosate and the insecticides malathion and diazinon are to be classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. With regard to glyphosate, the official document concludes that there is “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells.”


FoE Malta 2013 lab test findings

In June 2013, tests carried out by Friends of The Earth Malta (FoE) concluded that nine out of 10 urine samples from people tested in Malta contained traces of the weed killer glyphosate.

The results of laboratory tests carried out across Europe were published for the first time in June 2013, coincidentally the same week this newspaper had been investigating reports related to the use of Roundup in Malta and its effects, after a bee keeper, who preferred not to be named, raised the alarm to this paper.

However, doubts were cast on the study’s reliability, since only 10 samples were taken in the case of Malta, and an average of 12 tests were carried out in other European countries.

FoE had issued a statement shortly after saying it could confirm that the test followed a standard scientific methodology and samples were sent to a reputable lab in Germany together with other samples from 17 other European countries.

Despite the widespread use of glyphosate, governments rarely monitor its presence in food or water.


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