European Chemicals Agency hears glyphosate scientific views

ECHA has heard presentations by leading european and world health and pesticide agencies at a meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

Image: Glyphosate Task Force
Image: Glyphosate Task Force

The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) acted as the dossier submitter, and representations were heard by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the joint FAO/WHO meeting on pesticide residues (JMPR), industry's glyphosate task force (GTF) and a representative of civil society (Health And Environmental Alliance, HEAL).

The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) held its first preparatory discussion on the harmonised classification and labelling of glyphosate (ECHA/NI/16/51).

"To facilitate a balanced overview of a wide range of scientific views", six organisations were invited to give presentations, followed by an initial plenary discussion.

ECHA organised a public consultation on the German proposal for classification between 2 June and 18 July 2016.

RAC will continue discussing the topic at its next meeting in March 2017 and the final independent scientific opinion regarding the proposed harmonised classification for glyphosate can be expected during 2017. The legal deadline for RAC to adopt its opinion is the end of November 2017.

When available, ECHA will submit RAC’s scientific opinion to the Commission, which takes the final decision on the harmonised classification and labelling of glyphosate. The Commission will also take the agreed classification into account when deciding on the renewal of the approval of glyphosate under the Plant Protection Products Regulation.

In June 2016, the EC confirmed glyphosate's licence would be extended for 18 months.

Among areas assessed are Hazard Assessment of Glyphosate, Carcinogenicity and Reproductive Toxicity, Hazard Assessment of Glyphosate and Carcinogenicity and Reproductive Toxicity.

Mark Martens, on behalf of the Glyphosate Task Force (GTF), told the meeting: "The overall weight of evidence indicates that administration of glyphosate and its formulation products at doses as high as 2,000 mg/kg bw by the oral route, the route most relevant to human dietary exposure, was not associated with genotoxic effects in an overwhelming majority of studies conducted in mammals, a model considered to be appropriate for assessing genotoxic risks to humans."

EFSA presented a host of studies and among conclusions, said: "Overall evidence is inconclusive for a causal link or otherwise convincing associative relationship between glyphosate and cancer in human studies."

ECHA is the "driving force among regulatory authorities in implementing the EU's groundbreaking chemicals legislation for the benefit of human health and the environment as well as for innovation and competitiveness. ECHA helps companies to comply with the legislation, advances the safe use of chemicals, provides information on chemicals and addresses chemicals of concern."

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