EU may approve glyphosate for another 15 years

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, March 4, 2016 - Experts from the 28 member states of the EU are holding a closed-door meeting in Brussels next week to consider a European Commission proposal to extend authorization of the use of glyphosate for the next 15 years and there are indications it will be approved.

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During a press briefing in the Belgian capital, Enrico Brivio, an EC spokesperson for health and food safety issues, reminded reporters that experts from 27 of the 28 European Union nations had accepted the opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), released ahead of the upcoming meeting, that glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, in March found otherwise, classifying the herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” touching off a fierce debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

A spokesman for Monsanto, which markets glyphosate under the trade name Roundup, said the company would not have any comment on the matter in advance of the Brussels meeting. But Robb Fraley, the company's chief technology officer, retweeted a Reuters story quoting EU sources who said approval was expected, adding this comment: “Nice to see science-based regulatory decision.” The EU's existing authorization for glyphosate expires at the end of June.

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The EFSA study focused on glyphosate as a single active substance. Should the product be reauthorized at the EU level, each member country will be able to grant or refuse authorization of products that contain it at the national level.

Monsanto has released a preliminary scientific review disputing the IARC finding. It is also suing the state of California over its proposal to add glyphosate to a list of chemicals “known… to cause cancer.”

 

(This story was updated at 5:45 to include Monsanto spokemsan saying the company would have no comment.) 

 

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