European Chemicals Agency capitulates to agrochemical lobby on glyphosate
In a March 15 decision that violates the precautionary principle, scientific evidence and the European Union's presumed commitment to public health, worker protection and the defense of the environment, the Risk Assessment Committee of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) ruled that the toxic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, is not carcinogenic. The ECHA has 6 months to produce a report based on this decision which will relaunch efforts to renew glyphosate use in the European Union for an extended period.
Like the earlier report from the European Food Safety Agency which followed the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer March 2015 classification of glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans", the Risk Assessment Committee based its finding largely on unpublished industry reports. Substantial evidence from independent researchers was disregarded in a 'weight of evidence' approach which prioritizes 'risk' over hazard elimination. And the report was issued two days after internal Monsanto documents released by a United States court documented the company's consistent efforts to produce glyphosate-friendly studies and squash independent review by government regulatory bodies. The court released the documents, which reveal the extent of collusion between Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency, in response to a lawsuit brought by agricultural workers linking glyphosate exposure to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer.
The European Commission must issue a final decision by the end of 2017. Glyphosate reauthorization will again be put to a vote by member states in the EU's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed; in the absence of a qualified majority, the Commission will decide.
In Europe, the fight over glyphosate, and the wider struggle to rescue the food system from its addiction to toxic pesticides and destructive production methods, has come full circle to where it was one year ago. Public authorities have once more demonstrated the extent of their capture by the industry they are charged with regulating, while new evidence for banning glyphosate continues to accumulate. Sustained public pressure is needed now more than ever to take our food system off the pesticide treadmill.
CLICK HERE to sign the European Citizens' Initiative petition calling on the European Commission to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. You must be a citizen of the European Union to be able to sign.