By Arthur Nelsen – The Guardian, 15 March 2017

Photograph: Rene van den Berg/Alamy


Chemical used in the best-selling Roundup herbicide is cleared for public use following an EU licensing battle due to potential health risks

A controversial chemical used in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller has been judged safe for public use by the European Chemical Agency (Echa).

Glyphosate has been the subject of a relicensing battle which split governments, regulators and scientists, with one arm of the World Health Organisation linking the substance to cancer, while another denied any risk.

Echa was asked to assess its toxicity after EU countries failed to agree on a reauthorisation for the best-selling herbicide last summer, despite a positive recommendation from the European Food Safety Authority.

Today, the agency decided that “the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction”.

“This conclusion was based both on the human evidence and the weight of the evidence of all the animal studies reviewed,” Tim Bowmer, the chairman of Echa’s Committee for Risk Assessment, said in an online briefing.

A classification that glyphosate causes serious eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life will remain in place. The controversy over its health and environmental effects though, looks set to rumble on.



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