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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) and La Ligue contre le Cancer urge the French government to publicly clarify its position regarding the health risks posed by world’s top-selling herbicide glyphosate, in the context of the ongoing EU renewal process of the substance. France and the three other rapporteur member states leading on the evaluation process of glyphosate recently released their preliminary conclusions, which find the herbicide meets the approval criteria for human health [1, 2]. 

In a letter addressed to the French Ministers responsible for agriculture and the ecological transition, respectively Julien Denormandie and Barbara Pompili, the groups raise concerns about the apparent contradictions in the country’s position and ask for clarifications. France’s role as a co-rapporteur suggests that it fully supports the above mentioned conclusions on the toxicity of glyphosate. If confirmed, this represents a major U-turn to the country’s position, since it voted against the substance renewal in 2017 out of concerns for human health [3]. 

That same year, French President Macron himself publicly stated that he requested his government to take steps to get glyphosate banned within three years from the date of the European approval [4]. Meanwhile, France’s leading public health institute INSERM recently updated its state of the science on exposure to pesticides and health outcomes, highlighting links between glyphosate exposure and the risks of different types of cancer.

Natacha Cingotti, Health and Chemicals Programme Lead at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) comments: 

“Back in 2017, France championed health protection by strongly opposing the market renewal of glyphosate. In the meantime, the scientific evidence of the substance’s harm has continued to increase, as acknowledged by the recent update of France’s public health institute INSERM as regards the health risks posed by glyphosate and other pesticides. We are extremely concerned at the apparent u-turn in France’s position regarding the health risks posed by the world’s top-selling herbicide glyphosate and we urgently call on the authorities to clarify where they stand.” 

The current approval of glyphosate expires on 15 December 2022. France is co-rapporteur in the European assessment of the renewal dossier together with The Netherlands, Sweden and Hungary, which are jointly referred to as the Assessment Group on Glyphosate (or AGG). Earlier this month, 41 health and environment groups called on EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides to guarantee that the ongoing assessment is based on updated independent scientific evidence and remains free from vested interests [5].

Contact: 

Natacha Cingotti, Health and Chemicals Programme Lead, natacha@env-health.org

Notes:

  1. The letter is available in English and French
  2. In June 2021, four EU member states (France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden) released a statement which concluded that glyphosate does not pose risks for human health. https://www.env-health.org/ominous-first-step-in-eu-renewal-process-of-glyphosate-4-member-states-suggest-no-risk-for-human-health-heal-comment/
  3. https://www.actu-environnement.com/ae/news/rapport-premier-ministre-plan-sortie-glyphosate-produits-substition-29710.php4 ; https://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2017/11/27/la-commission-europeenne-autorise-l-utilisation-du-glyphosate-jusqu-en-2022_5221037_3214.html; https://www.lesoir.be/123522/article/2017-11-09/glyphosate-nicolas-hulot-fier-que-la-france-tienne-bon-bruxelles
  4. French President Emmanuel Macron, « J’ai demandé au gouvernement de prendre les dispositions nécessaires pour que l’utilisation du glyphosate soit interdite en France dès que des alternatives auront été trouvées, et au plus tard dans trois ans. #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain », Official Twitter account, 27 November 2017, last accessed 5th August 2021
  5. https://www.env-health.org/glyphosate-41-health-and-environment-groups-urge-eu-commission-to-put-an-end-to-use-of-unreliable-industry-studies/

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is the leading not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects human health in the European Union (EU) and beyond. HEAL works to shape laws and policies that promote planetary and human health and protect those most affected by pollution, and raise awareness on the benefits of environmental action for health.

HEAL’s over 90 member organisations include international, European, national and local groups of health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, patients, citizens, women, youth, and environmental experts representing over 200 million people across the 53 countries of the WHO European Region.

As an alliance, HEAL brings independent and expert evidence from the health community to EU and global decision-making processes to inspire disease prevention and to promote a toxic-free, low-carbon, fair and healthy future. HEAL’s EU Transparency Register Number: 00723343929-96

The Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) is the only not-for-profit organisation that unites, supports and represents national and
regional cancer leagues across the WHO European region.

ECL provides a voice and forum for cancer leagues to collaborate and share knowledge, primarily in the areas of cancer prevention, access to medicines and patient support, and create opportunities to advocate for these issues at the EU level and beyond.

ECL’s 30 member organisations are cancer societies operating across the whole cancer continuum and patient pathway. Cancer leagues are the main resource for the public for cancer control information and services. From Iceland to Israel, they contribute to preventing and fighting cancer by raising awareness and educating people about cancer, investing in research and providing support to cancer patients and their families during and after treatment.

ECL’s member leagues together employ more than 8,000 people and over 300,000 volunteers. They spend more than €750 million every year to fight cancer and represent over 570 million citizens. ECL’s EU Transparency Register Number: 19265592757-25

A PROPOS DE LA LIGUE CONTRE LE CANCER
1er financeur associatif indépendant de la recherche contre le cancer, la Ligue contre le cancer est une organisation non-gouvernementale indépendante reposant sur la générosité du public et sur l’engagement de ses militants.

Forte de près de 600 000 adhérents et 11 200 bénévoles, la Ligue est un mouvement populaire organisé en une fédération de 103 Comités départementaux. Ensemble, ils luttent dans quatre directions complémentaires : chercher pour guérir, prévenir pour protéger, accompagner pour aider, mobiliser pour agir.

Aujourd’hui, la Ligue fait de la lutte contre le cancer un enjeu sociétal rassemblant le plus grand nombre possible d’acteurs sanitaires mais aussi économiques, sociaux ou politiques sur tous les territoires. En brisant les tabous et les peurs, la Ligue contribue au changement de l’image du cancer et de ceux qui en sont atteints.

Pour en savoir plus : www.ligue-cancer.net