Europe’s food safety agency reportedly relied on a review that lifted language from a Monsanto report when concluding that the possible cancer-causing ingredient in the company’s popular weed-killer Roundup is safe, raising concerns that the agency failed to properly analyze the pesticide’s potential dangers.
“If regulators rely on the industry’s evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry’s hands.”
—Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace”If regulators rely on the industry’s evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry’s hands,” said Greenpeace’s European Union (EU) food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, who added that this discovery “calls into question the entire EU pesticide approval process.”
The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) official stance on glyphosate—Roundup’s key ingredient that the World Health Organization determined is “probably carcinogenic to humans”—is likely to influence an upcoming, hotly contested vote by the 28 EU member states over whether to approve a 10-year renewal of the pesticide’s license.
According to an exclusive Guardian report published on Thursday night, EFSA based its conclusion that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential” on a 2015 renewal assessment report prepared by Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, or BfR, at the EFSA’s behest.
“Dozens of pages” of that renewal assessment report, writes Arthur Nelsen for the Guardian, “are identical to passages in an application submitted by Monsanto on behalf of the Glyphosate Task Force (GTF), an industry body led by the company.”
“These sections,” he continues, “analyze peer-reviewed studies into links between glyphosate and genotoxicity (how likely it is to cause cell mutations), carcinogenicity, and reproductive damage,” including a study by one former and one current Monsanto employee.
An EFSA spokesperson told the Guardian that “these are extracts from and references to publicly available studies submitted by the applicant as part of their obligation under the pesticide legislation to carry out a literature search,” and thus, “these are not Glyphosate Task Force studies but rather studies available in the public scientific literature.”
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