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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and eight of its members and health partners have written to European agriculture, environment, and health ministers to urge their governments to support a complete phase-out of glyphosate. Their joint letter comes ahead of a meeting between member states’ representatives taking place 12-13 October to discuss and potentially vote on the European Commission’s proposal to renew glyphosate’s market license for a period of ten years.

The potential renewal of the market authorisation of glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide in the world, will be discussed at the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) on 12-13 October. Despite repeated calls from the health and scientific community to not renew the substance based on the wealth of independent science pointing to the concerning health effects resulting from exposure, the European Commission has suggested to greenlight its use for an additional ten years. This is double as long as a renewal period compared to when the pesticide was last renewed in 2018, even though the evidence showing glyphosate harms health has only grown.

Exposure to glyphosate puts people’s health at risk

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate is a potential carcinogen based on an extensive independent peer-review of all the available scientific evidence. In 2021, these carcinogenicity concerns were echoed in a review on the health impacts of pesticides carried out by France’s national institute for public health INSERM.

Besides carcinogenicity concerns, independent scientific literature has associated glyphosate exposure to numerous serious health conditions, including kidney disease, potential contributions to the development of Parkinson’s disease, impacts for the human developmental and the reproductive systems, as well as other transgenerational effects.

Significant health-related data gaps in the industry dossier and the EFSA opinion

Despite a substantial body of independent scientific evidence to the contrary, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a statement in July stating that glyphosate does not pose unacceptable risks for human health. Meanwhile, the agency identified data gaps in the renewal dossier submitted by industry. HEAL and other health and environment groups expressed great concern about EFSA’s statement, which forms part of the foundation for the Commission’s renewal proposal.

Additionally, independent scientists have recently found that a neurotoxicity study following established test guidelines revealed a neurobehavioural effect of a specific form of glyphosate on rats at doses previously not known to cause effects. This important finding was not reported to regulatory authorities by the pesticide companies. This omission from the industry dossier is currently the subject of a criminal investigation.

Based on the current evidence publicly available, HEAL and our members remain concerned about the long-term impacts of glyphosate for health and urge EU governments to support a full ban of the substance as soon as possible.

Click here to read the letter. 

Click here to visit other HEAL resources on glyphosate and health. 

Visit the website of the Stop Glyphosate campaign, a coalition of European civil society groups calling for a complete ban on glyphosate.

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