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NGO Alliance demands glyphosate re-evaluation from EU Commission

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Pesticide spraying
Glyphosate spreads more through the air than originally assumed. © iStock / Leonid Eremeychuk

41 European environmental and food organisations are calling on the EU Commission to ensure an independent scientific reassessment of the risks of glyphosate. The demand is based on an assessment of the application documents by authorities from France, Sweden, Hungary and the Netherlands.

On behalf of the EU, they examined the documents with which the new authorisation of the herbicide until 2037 was applied for. They had already presented the result - that glyphosate was harmless - in June. The EU food authority EFSA has now published the entire report of the four countries on the internet and opened it for comments until 22 November.

After reviewing the report, the organisations base their appeal on the poor quality of the studies submitted by the manufacturers, which are often decades old, as well as the numerous new studies that prove both the carcinogenic effects of glyphosate and environmental damage caused by the herbicide.

Airborne dispersal

One of these studies was commissioned by the Alliance for Grandchild-Friendly Agriculture (German: Bündnis für enkeltaugliche Landwirtschaft). It proved that glyphosate spreads through the air over kilometres, contrary to what has always been claimed. The work has since been peer-reviewed by other scientists and published in Environmental Sciences Europe, a renowned scientific journal. "We call on the EU authorities to include these scientifically confirmed findings in the re-evaluation of glyphosate," said Christine Vogt of the Munich Environmental Institute, which was involved in the study.

Monsanto tests deviate from guidelines

A study by Siegfried Knasmüller and Armen Nersesyan, a cancer researcher at the University of Vienna, caused quite a stir. Knasmüller and Nersesyan had examined 53 genotoxicity tests, i.e. studies in which bacteria or cell cultures were used to examine whether glyphosate can cause genetic damage. These studies were already available in earlier approval procedures, but were only known to the manufacturers and authorities before the European Court of Justice ruled in 2019 that they had to be released.

In the old authorisation procedure in 2015, the EU food authority EFSA had accepted almost all of these manufacturer studies as proof of the harmlessness of glyphosate. Knasmüller and Nersesyan, on the other hand, found that 34 of the 53 studies "substantially" deviated from the international guidelines applicable to such tests.

They therefore assessed them as "not reliable". Sometimes the number of cells examined was not sufficient, sometimes not enough bacterial strains were used. Knasmüller and his colleague rated another 17 studies as "partially reliable". Only two studies were rated as "reliable" by the acknowledged experts for such tests. Almost all of these studies can be found in the application documents and were again not criticised by the authorities.


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