A few weeks ago, the European Chemicals Agency ECHA published a risk assessment about glyphosate, according to which the aggressive plant poison is supposedly not carcinogenic. Europena NGOs accused the EU authority of taking over industry-related “Monsanto papers” completely uncritically. Now a cancer researcher is doubting the correctness of this assessment. He found eight “overlooked” tumour findings that it did not take account of. This means there are now 21 statistically significant cancer findings. Furthermore, the International Agency for Cancer Research of WHO has been warning about the toxin for years. It has not only picked out a couple of individual studies but has put together a whole monograph of 1000 studies that allows the identification of a stable trend according to which glyphosate must be classified as probably carcinogenic. These results therefore look quite different from the conclusion that ECHA comes to, namely that glyphosate is allegedly harmless. However, two weeks ago the commission signalised the go-ahead for approval of the toxin for a further ten years on this basis.

This story has a background: exactly a year ago, the approval for glyphosate expired. The resistance on behave of the civil population in the member states was enormous and suddenly chances of the approval being extended appeared slim. At the same time, the chemical giant Bayer negotiated the takeover of the US food corporation Monsanto in the largest deal in German economic history. The salient point: both corporations manufacture the plant toxin glyphosate. Just at this point, the commission shelved the decision about the approval of the plant toxin – evidently the aim was to let water flow under the bridge and wait for a suitable time. This time has now come: the Bayer-Monsanto deal is going ahead and ECHO has given the green light for glyphosate and therefore its unrestricted use. This assessment was issued much sooner than it should have been. Evidently tension was mounting and now there was a race: the EU Commission and the member states can now make the glyphosate decision much faster than planned based on this risk assessment and evidently this must definitely occur before the European citizens’ initiative has reached a million signatures against glyphosate, because if this is the case it must be granted a hearing and the Commission must also issue a response – this would make the extension uncertain again and they wanted to avoid this at all costs.

The citizens’ initiative against glyphosate is now at around 800,000 signatures and is still running for two weeks.  We demand that ECHA withdraws its verdict, starts from the beginning and takes account of these “overlooked” tumour findings in the risk assessment. The approval may by no means be extended before then.


Posted by Michel Reimon