European food safety chief hits out at political critics of glyphosate finding

European Food Safety Authority executive director Bernard Url has told Reuters that it is very unwise for "political actors" to discredit scientific organisations because they "don't like the outcome in one out of 100 cases", following his agency's finding that glyphosate is safe to use.

Url asked why complaints about EFSA's work seemed to emerge only in response to opinions that clashed with a particular "political agenda".

Asked why he thinks glyphosate has generated such an intense battle, Url said: "Glyphosate is a very widely used weedkiller; it's linked to Monsanto; Monsanto is linked to genetically modified organisms; so it's about money, obviously, but also about the way agriculture is done in Europe. There are many people who say we shouldn't use large amounts of agrochemicals."

The ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup was "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans" EFSA found.

But Url told Reuters: "If political actors discredit scientific organisations because they don't like the outcome in one out of 100 cases, they diminish the reputation of an organisation that they as policymakers will need to rely on in future. From a political perspective it's very unwise".

The EU decision on re-licensing glyphosate is due by the end of 2017.

In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic".

EFSA, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a joint committee of the WHO and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have since said glyphosate is not carcinogenic.

Green groups have attacked EFSA's review.

 


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