Contention heats up over glyphosate

January 25, 2016

According to Reuters, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Executive Director Bernhard Url has responded to a letter written by nearly 100 senior scientists who criticized the agency’s determination that the herbicide glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer. EFSA’s opinion, issued in November 2015, is odds with a view from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which stated in March 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

On Nov. 27, 2015, 96 academics from around the world signed an open letter to European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis urging EU authorities to ignore EFSA’s opinion.

“We urge you and the European Commission to disregard the flawed EFSA finding on glyphosate in your formulation of glyphosate health and environmental policy for Europe,” the letter said.

EFSA’s opinion could lead the 28-member European Union to renew approval for glyphosate, which was brought into use by Monsanto in the 1970s and is used in its top-selling product Roundup and many other herbicides around the world.

In his reply dated Jan. 13, 2106, Url described glyphosate as “a keenly debated issue.” He goes on to state, “I strongly disagree with your contention that EFSA has not applied open and objective criteria to its assessment.”

Url said representatives of EFSA and the IARC would meet early this year to clarify differences of view between the two bodies.

Reuters article

Letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis (pdf)

Reply from Vytenis Andriukaitis (pdf)

Bernhard Url’s reply (pdf)