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Glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer - EFSA

Farm chiefs have welcomed a review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which concludes glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.


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Glyphosate is one of the most monitored plant protection products
Glyphosate is one of the most monitored plant protection products

The peer review, which assessed the active ingredient as part of the European renewal process, did however propose a new ‘exposure limit’ safety measure regarding glyphosate residues in food.

 

Nick von Westenholz, CEO of the Crop Protection Association, said the review chimed with numerous health assessments conducted over the last 40 years which concluded there were no risks to human health when the product was used correctly.

 

“As an industry we take pride in the fact that our products are demonstrably safe,” said Mr von Westenholz.

 

“Pesticides are amongst the most heavily regulated products in Europe and it currently takes about ten years, costing over £150 million to bring an active ingredient to market. It is this process, backed by effective and independent regulatory scrutiny, that ensures the public can have absolute confidence in our products.”

 

NFU Scotland policy manager Peter Loggie said glyphosate - the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup - was one of the most important tools in farmers’ armoury of plant protection products.

 

He said: “In welcoming this review, it was hugely important that any decisions on the product’s future use and availability were based on all the scientific evidence accumulated on the product and made on the basis of risk and not hazard.”

 

Details of the residue limit have not yet been published.

 

Mr Loggie added: “We would hope that any new residue limits do not generate a barrier to the safe application of glyphosate in the field in accordance with recommendations, and that this important product continues to be available to Scottish farmers in the future.”

 

The Soil Association (SA), which has been campaigning to stop glyphosate being sprayed on wheat destined for use in UK bread, said there was ’no surprise’ EFSA found the chemical to be safe, because it relied on ’industry funded, unpublished studies’.

 

SA policy director Peter Melchett pointed to a recent study by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency which found the chemical was ’probably carcinogenic to humans’.

 

Mr Melchett said the WHO was right to look at glyphosate mixes as they are sold to farmers and gardeners, rather than the EFSA study which assesses the chemical on its own.


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