The European Chemical’s Agency (ECHA) has announced that it had found glyphosate not to be a carcinogen.
ECHA’s review is intended to resolve conflicting findings over the carcinogenicity of glyphosate after EU member states failed to reach an agreement on the renewal of the herbicide late in 2016. Speaking earlier in 2016, European Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said “the last word belongs to the ECHA, which is why the Commission proposes to ask ECHA for its scientific assessment on the carcinogenicity of the herbicide and to extend the current approval of glyphosate until it receives ECHA’s opinion.”
The opinion will now go through a normal editorial check before being sent to the European Commission and will be a determining factor in the European Commission’s decision of whether or not to renew approval for glyphosate as an active substance in pesticides later in 2017.
ECHA noted that the “committee also had full access to the original reports of studies conducted by industry. RAC has assessed all the scientific data, including any scientifically relevant information received during the public consultation in summer 2016.” RAC’s independent classification is based “solely on the hazardous properties of the substance.”
The European Commission previously extended glyphosate’s existing approval in the hope that the ECHA’s opinion would resolve conflicting scientific views over the carcinogenicity classification. The ECHA opened a public consultation in June 2016 on the evaluation carried out by Germany, as rapporteur member state, which concluded that there is no need for a specific classification for carcinogenicity.
ECHA’s classification is particularly prescient as litigation in the United States begins to take root. Current litigation relies on the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a 2A carcinogen – probably carcinogenic to human beings. However, IARC has numerous documented issues in transparency and has been criticized for past work. ECHA’s finding that glyphosate is not a carcinogen throws further doubt on IARC’s process and conclusion. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting its own review of glyphosate. Already in September 2016, the EPA published a “Glyphosate Issue Paper,” which concluded that glyphosate should be classified as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
Several regulatory bodies have studied glyphosate, all concluded the herbicide is not a carcinogen, including:
- Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (April 13, 2015)
- EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (October 1, 2015)
- European Food Safety Authority (November 12, 2015)
- United Nations/World Health Organization (May 9-13, 2016)
- German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to the European Chemicals Agency (May 2016)
- New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (August 2016)