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Health impacts of glyphosate highlighted at EU Parliament workshop

On 24 May HEAL’s Executive Director Genon K. Jensen outlined health concerns about the potential re-authorisation of glyphosate at a workshop on the EU’s pesticide risk assessment system: the case of glyphosate.

The aim of the workshop was to provide information to the Members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee of the EU Parliament about the health effects of pesticides, with a special focus on glyphosate and human health. Glyphosate has been recently classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the WHO.

HEAL’s Genon K. Jensen highlighted the scientific consensus on the threats of =glyphosate to health and the environment, and shared information on the many health and medical groups which are engaged to reduce exposure to glyphosate.

HEAL strongly believes along with a growing number of cancer charities, medical and other civil society actors that the EU should not reauthorise glyphosate.

This is based on the following five concerns:

- First, the considerable increase of exposure over the last 30 years should be a reason for caution in decision making, particularly if there are scientific studies on potential harm;

- Second, new evidence demonstrates that this chemicals persists longer in the environment than previously thought, which is a reason for caution;

- Third, the concern around its cancer causing properties with the IARC classification. The EU law says that when pesticides cause cancer, they cannot be authorised, hence HEAL considers a re-authorisation of glyphosate would go against EU law;

- Fourth, the effects on nutrient balance where glyphosate has the potential to sequester essential micronutrient metals such as zinc, cobalt and manganese from the soil. This can then alter the availability of these micronutrients for crops, people, wildlife, pets, and livestock, and;

- Fifth, glyphosate is a potential hormone disrupting chemical (EDC). Scientific evidence links exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals to spiralling rates of hormone-related cancers such as breast or testicular cancer, fertility problems, diabetes and obesity as well as learning and behavioural problems in children. So if glyphosate is an EDC, the 2009 EU pesticides law says that if a pesticide is an EDC, it should not be authorised. So a re-authorisation of glyphosate would also go against EU law.

Genon then moved on to primary prevention of exposure to these chemicals such as safer alternatives.

HEAL together with other health and environmental organisations emphasises primary prevention measures to reduce exposure, and is pleased to see that the EP resolution has taken many of them up, for example the stopping the use by non-professionals and in public parks or schools.

Just last month, the European Cancer Leagues co-hosted with MEPs against Cancer a briefing in the European Parliament on ‘Cancer and Glyphosate’

Originally posted on 26 May 2016

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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