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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE Italy) and the Belgian Independent Health Insurance Funds (Mutualités Libres / Onafhankelijke Ziekenfondsen) call on European governments to support a full ban of glyphosate, ahead of a meeting between member states’ representatives in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) taking place this month. 

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 will form part of the foundation for a proposal from the European Commission to extend the use of glyphosate. Member states’ representatives are expected to discuss this proposal at the SCoPAFF meeting this week. 

“Independent scientific evidence shows that glyphosate significantly harms our health and that of future generations, making continued exposure of the population unacceptable. If the European Commission and member states are serious about their commitments to health protection and zero pollution, the only way forward is the non-renewal of the substance’s market license”,  says Natacha Cingotti, Health and Chemicals Programme Lead at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide on the planet and has been classified as a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the World Health Organization’s International Research Agency on Cancer. 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.

Additionally, a new independent paper published this week shows loopholes in the EU’s scientific evaluation of glyphosate’s genotoxicity and carcinogenicity potential: the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and EFSA declared incidences of some of the observed tumours in industry cancer studies as irrelevant. The agencies also dismissed evidence from independent literature that glyphosate causes oxidative stress, a recognised mechanism that can lead to cancer. Should these deficiencies in the hazard evaluation of glyphosate be corrected, the official classification proposal would look different. 

Based on the current evidence publicly available, HEAL and our members remain concerned about the long-term impacts of glyphosate for health and urge member states 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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