MEPs challenge impartiality of glyphosate studies


A group of EU parliamentarians is demanding the bloc hold off on renewing the licence for glyphosate, a weedkiller the World Health Organisation says probably causes cancer.

Glyphosate, the main ingredient in agrochemical giant Monsanto's pesticide, Roundup, is used across the EU, by farmers, park attendants and home gardeners.

Last week, the EU's chemicals agency said that the available scientific evidence did not prove the contested chemical causes cancer, echoing a 2015 finding by the bloc's food safety agency.

But a cross-party group of MEPs, including Ireland's Nessa Childers, has written to the European Commission to complain about the studies used to come to that conclusion.

The letter follows revelations in an ongoing US court case and a report by a group of NGOs that Monsanto ghost-wrote some of the studies used by the EU's agencies.

At least one of those studies was thrown out by the UN's WHO in its own assessment in 2015.

MEPs, who have mounted a freedom of information request to see the studies, say the EU's chemicals and food safety agencies should investigate the impartiality of the studies they used.

"The health of our citizens is too important to be gambled on," said Belgian MEP Bart Staes, the Green group's food safety spokesperson.

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MEPs are also calling for EU compensation for farmers to encourage them to find alternatives to glyphosate, and changes to the EU's pesticides rules to ensure chemicals are only approved based on independent and publicly available scientific studies.

Glyphosate has long been a controversial subject in Brussels.

Last year, EU countries came to blows over whether to renew it for another 15 years, with the European Commission having to step in, putting the issue off until this year.

They have until the end of the year to make a proposal for renewal.

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