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A statement published today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide on the planet, does not pose unacceptable risks for human health, despite independent scientific evidence to the contrary. This statement could constitute a critical step towards a proposal for renewal by the European Commission later in the fall.

According to EFSA, no critical areas of concern were identified for humans, animals or the environment during the peer-review of the glyphosate renewal assessment report. But at the same time the agency identifies data gaps in relation to the assessment of one impurity of the substance, the consumer dietary risk assessment, and the assessment of risks to aquatic systems – which are left up for consideration by the European Commission and Member States at a later stage. 

When it comes to health effects, robust scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports concerns about glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential as well as other impacts for human development, or the reproductive system – some of them with the ability to be transmitted across generations”, says Natacha Cingotti, Health and Chemicals Programme Lead at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “EFSA stating an absence of unacceptable risks is concerning, especially if the authority has identified data gaps in the dossier preventing firm conclusions regarding the risk assessment of representative uses of glyphosate-based products.” 

EFSA’s full opinion will only be made publicly available at the end of July and further background documents will be released by the autumn. Based on the current evidence publicly available, HEAL remains concerned about the long-term impacts of glyphosate for health and urges the European Commission and Member States to propose a ban of the substance as soon as possible.


EFSA statement and accompanying factsheet, 6 July 2023

The current approval of glyphosate on the EU market expires in December 2023. In May 2022, health and environment groups already raised the alarm after the EU Chemicals Agency (ECHA) concluded glyphosate cannot be identified as a carcinogenic, genotoxic or reprotoxic substance. The ECHA opinion on the cancer-causing potential of the herbicide weighed in the risk assessment conducted by EFSA, which will now form the basis for the European Commission’s decision on whether to suggest a renewal of glyphosate’s market license.

Exposure to glyphosate-based pesticide products has been linked to certain types of cancer, adverse effects on development and the hormonal system, transgenerational health effects, and negative impacts on human reproduction. The WHO International Research Agency on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic‘ with ‘strong evidence’ for genotoxicity. A HEAL report published in June 2022 revealed how scientific evidence proving that glyphosate is carcinogenic has so far been dismissed in the EU’s scientific assessment.

For more background about the EU renewal process of glyphosate and HEAL’s position, visit the HEAL website.

For an Italian version of this press note, please visit our member organisation the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) Italy.

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