EU must respect Precautionary Principle and withdraw glyphosate’s authorisation, says ENSSER
The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) says it has "serious reservations" about the position of “no critical areas of concern” adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the herbicide active ingredient glyphosate and the European Commission’s subsequent proposal to renew its market approval.
ENSSER writes in a statement, "We note that the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and subsequently EFSA have neglected to consider extensive, damning scientific evidence from laboratory studies, which demonstrate that glyphosate and its commercial formulations can give rise to toxicity and serious diseases through different mechanisms of action. This includes induction of fatty liver disease, oxidative stress, DNA damage, neurological damage and cancer.
"These laboratory observations are supported by investigations of human populations which show that exposure to glyphosate herbicides is strongly linked with fatty liver disease, neurological disorders, causation of oxidative stress and associated DNA damage, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"In addition, the uncertainties identified by EFSA regarding effects of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides on complex systems, including biodiversity and microbiomes, are in fact indications of potential adverse effects in these systems.
"Taken together, this evidence should prevent glyphosate and glyphosate herbicide market re-approval. The manner in which the Commission has dealt with this renewal is an indication that the administrative system fails to identify the full impact of glyphosate on both human health and environmental well-being, especially on a long-term basis. Most importantly, this path taken by the Commission is a flagrant abandonment of the Precautionary Principle, which the EC is legally bound to uphold.
"The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced its conclusion regarding the environmental and health impact assessment of the herbicide active ingredient glyphosate as 'no critical areas of concern'. Although pointing out high long term ecotoxicity-related risks to mammals in over half of the proposed uses of glyphosate, as well as the lack of established guidelines to evaluate the reported effects on biodiversity and microbiomes, EFSA’s assessment did not identify any critical areas of concern, thus pointing towards re-approval. In turn, and based on this conclusion, the European Commission (EC) prepared a report for the re-approval of glyphosate as an active ingredient in herbicides in the EU in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009.
"We consider EFSA’s peer review (EFSA, 2023) and the corresponding EC [European Commission] renewal report (EC, 2023) to be overly optimistic for re-approval, not only because they do not sufficiently consider the glyphosate-induced adverse effects in the assessment, but also because they conclude that there are no critical areas of concern even though data gaps and outstanding issues have been identified. Moreover, assessment should not only focus on individual toxic effects, but also on multiple toxicity (cocktail effects) and overuse of this herbicide active ingredient leading to imbalanced use and environmental contamination."
ENSSER concludes, "The available scientific information about the effects of glyphosate and glyphosate-based products on human health, the environment and biodiversity provides more than reasonable grounds for the risk manager, the EC, to suspect possible harm, even though full scientific certainty might be lacking. This is the type of situation for which the Precautionary Principle (PP) exists. The EC is committed to the PP by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU... However, its current proposal to renew the approval of glyphosate evidently completely neglects all the reported adverse effects and thus violates the PP."
Read the full ENSSER statement with references here.