Two Sides Still Divided Over Glyphosate After Risk Assessment Report

A campaign group has called for “practical alternatives” to a controversial weed-killer to be developed, despite a European body concluding that it should not be classed as a substance causing cancer, writes Sarah Chambers on the East Anglian Daily Times web site.

Farmers’ leaders and the agrochemical sector this week welcomed the decision about glyphosate by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA).

National Farmers union vice president Guy Smith

National Farmers union vice president Guy Smith.

ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) concluded that “the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction”.

But Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said: “The ECHA’s view contradicts the position of the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classified glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ in 2015.”

He argued that ECHA had only reviewed evidence on glyphosate “in isolation, rather than as it is used” and said it was “not clear” why it had reached a different conclusion to IARC.

“While the debate on links between glyphosate and cancer will continue, the ECHA’s opinion doesn’t change the pressing need to develop even more practical alternatives for those farmers who currently rely on it,” he said.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) welcomed the ECHA conclusions and said the chemical played a “vital role” in agriculture in the UK.


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