The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will investigate the human health effects of glyphosate
An EU member state experts’ vote on the European Commission’s plan to grant a new 15-year licence to the herbicide glyphosate was cancelled today, as several countries raised concerns over cancer warnings by the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO), IARC, Greenpeace reported.
According to sources cited by Pesticide Action Network Europe in a press statement, the vote on glyphosate’s re-authorization will be postponed until the next meeting of Member States in 6 weeks.
The EU licence of the world’s most used weedkiller runs out at the end of June. The Commission had tried to get the green light from national experts for a new licence, despite scientific evidence showing that glyphosate is a serious threat to our health and the environment.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is about to investigate the wider human health effects of glyphosate, following the WHO’s warnings. This process will only be finalised towards the end of 2017. If ECHA finds that glyphosate can cause cancer, interfere with reproduction or damage the hormone system, then it can no longer be sold, according to EU law.
Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “Rushing to grant a new licence now, without waiting for an evaluation by Europe’s chemical agency, would be like skydiving without checking your equipment first. As long as there is conflicting scientific advice, glyphosate should not be approved for use in the EU. And countries would be better advised to do without it.”
Pesticide Action Network Europe issued a statement welcoming the delay and saying, “We demand during this delay DG SANTE to change its proposal on glyphosate and propose to ban not only the co-formulant [tallowamine] of some glyphosate-based products but glyphosate itself as well. Numerous scientific studies, including IARC, have proven the dangerous health effects of this chemical. The pesticide regulation ensures a high level of protection for human and the environment and that's what the Commission should do, it should not take sides with the industry."
On 7 March over 180,000 people called for a ban on glyphosate via a petition presented by NGOs to the EU health commissioner and member state representatives.
 Following the WHO’s cancer research agency (IARC) warning for glyphosate (http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf), the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said in November 2015 that there was no scientific evidence of a cancer link (www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/151112). Ninety-six independent scientists, including several of those involved in the WHO’s cancer review, slammed the EFSA assessment as “not supported by the evidence”: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Prof_Portier_letter.pdf.
 Leading scientists concluded recently that “regulatory estimates of tolerable daily intakes for glyphosate in the United States and European Union are based on outdated science”. They also highlighted the need for further study on whether glyphosate can have disrupting effects on the human hormone system, and noted that there are many environmental problems associated with it: http://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-016-0117-0
 ECHA will evaluate carcinogenicity, germ cell mutagenicity and reproductive toxicity: http://echa.europa.eu/registry-current-classification-and-labelling-intentions/-/substance-rev/10121/term
Sources: Greenpeace http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2016/Glyphosate-licence-renewal-suspended-in-light-of-health-concerns-/
and Pesticide Action Network Europe