EU food agency must release glyphosate studies - ECJ rules

Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that contains glyphosate for sale in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that contains glyphosate for sale in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) must disclose details of studies on the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of glyphosate, EU judges have ruled.

Glyphosate is a chemical product used in pesticides, which are plant protection products and is one of the most widely used herbicides in the EU.

In a statement, the European Court of Justice’s General Court said the public must have access not only to information on emissions as such, but also to information concerning the medium to long-term consequences of those emissions on the state of the environment, such as the effects of those emissions on non-targeted organisms.

It said the public interest in accessing information on emissions into the environment is specifically to know not only what is, or foreseeably will be, released into the environment, but also to understand the way in which the environment could be affected by the emissions in question.

Judges annulled two decisions by EFSA that denied access to details of the studies into the substance, which campaigners say should be banned. The two cases were brought by Green members of the European Parliament among others.

“EFSA welcomes the decision,” the agency’s spokesman said in a statement. “This case, and the Court’s ruling, is important because it provides orientation for EFSA and others charged with interpreting EU legislation on public access to documents.”

Glyphosate was developed by Bayer’s Monsanto under the brand Roundup. It is now off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups including Dow Agrosciences and Germany’s BASF.

Concerns about its safety were highlighted when a World Health Organization agency concluded in 2015 that it probably causes cancer.

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In 2017, President Emmanuel Macron pledged to ban glyphosate in France within three years, rejecting a European Union decision to extend its use for five years.

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