A European Food Safety Authority review did not find “any critical areas of concern” in a peer review it conducted of a risk assessment of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as the European Union prepares to vote later this year on the future of the herbicide on the continent.

The chemical, the active ingredient in Roundup, is currently approved for use in the EU through Dec. 15.

The Glyphosate Renewal Group, a group of companies seeking continued authorization for use in the EU, said in a statement that “these final scientific conclusions are consistent with assessments of leading health regulators around the world, as well as the overwhelming evidence from nearly 50 years of science.” 

The latest conclusions “lay the foundation for a successful re-approval of glyphosate in the EU,” the GRG said. “The outcome follows an extremely robust regulatory evaluation process, one of the most stringent in the world.”

Roundup maker Bayer echoed the GRG, saying the EFSA conclusion “lays the basis for the successful re-approval of glyphosate in the EU and is consistent with conclusions from leading health regulatory bodies from around the world for nearly 50 years.”

Pesticide Action Network Europe disagreed with the companies, saying that “the potential of glyphosate products to cause developmental neurotoxicity and harm the microbiome and biodiversity is clearly recognized. Nevertheless, EFSA proposes to continue with the approval process by sending the ball to the field of member states.”

EFSA said in a news release, “Issues that could not be finalized include the assessment of one of the impurities in glyphosate, the consumer dietary risk assessment, and the assessment of risks to aquatic plants."

"With respect to ecotoxicology, the data package allowed a conservative risk assessment approach, which identified a high long-term risk to mammals in 12 out of 23 proposed uses of glyphosate," EFSA said.

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“Outstanding issues include, among others, a lack of information about the toxicity of one of the components present in the glyphosate-based pesticide formulation submitted for evaluation, which is needed to conclude the risk assessment of the formulation for representative uses," the authority said. "For this formulation there were no indications of acute toxicity and genotoxicity.”

EFSA has summarized the paper and said it expects to publish the full document by the end of the month.

Last year, the European Chemicals Agency concluded that glyphosate “did not meet the scientific criteria to be classified” as a carcinogen, mutagen or reproductive toxicant, EFSA said.

“The risk assessment and peer review of glyphosate represents the work of dozens of scientists from EFSA and the member states in a process that has spanned over three years. It is based on an evaluation of many thousands of studies and scientific articles, and also incorporates valuable input gathered during the public consultation” said Guilhem de Seze, the head of EFSA’s Risk Assessment Production Department.

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