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Saturday 18 November 2017

Roundup licence decision on hold until September

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

Sarah Collins

It's unlikely EU governments will be able to agree on whether to renew the licence for controversial weedkiller glyphosate until after German elections in September.

National envoys held inconclusive talks this week on whether to reauthorise the chemical - which a World Health Organization (WHO) body said in 2015 "probably" causes cancer - for a further 10 years.

The Irish government supports the reauthorisation, which was proposed by the bloc's health commissioner in May.

The talks took place just days after scientists at the bloc's chemicals and food safety agencies hit back at accusations they had not taken all the science into account in their assessment.

This had conlcuded that there was not enough evidence to show the substance causes cancer.

Both agencies have said there is not enough evidence to support the 2015 finding by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that it is carcinogenic.

In a letter to US scientist Dr Christopher J Portier, who has worked with IARC and defended its 2015 claim, the two agencies said they had "adequately considered" all studies in their assessment of glyphosate.

Dr Portier had said that the scientists failed to take into account eight instances where rats had "significant increases" in tumours after being exposed to glyphosate.

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Protests

A decision on the renewal of glyphosate's EU licence is due by December, with the EU nervous of calling a vote before German elections are over.

Glyphosate, which is marketed in the EU as Roundup by agro-chemical giant Monsanto, has caused political upheaval and mass protests across Europe, particularly in Germany and France.

It is the subject of an EU citizens' petition to ban its use, which has already garnered over 1.3 million signatures.

If there are over a million signatures from more than seven countries, the petitioners can force the Commission to act.


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