European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has dealt a devastating blow to MEPs who tried to block the re-authorisation of glyphosate.
Earlier this month, 30 MEPs wrote to Mr Juncker suggesting the European Chemical Agency’s ruling that glyphosate was non-carcinogenic had been influenced by Monsanto.
They called on him to oppose the chemical’s re-authorisation and offer support to farmers for a ‘rapid transition’ towards glyphosate-free agriculture.
In his response, Mr Juncker gave a robust defence of the EU regulatory system, saying he believed it protected humans and the environment.
No reason to question
“In light of the thorough examination of all the information available by the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency, there is no reason to question the scientific assessments and conclusions on glyphosate in the European Union”, he added.
He said the MEPs had focused on one analysis of a scientific study which had ‘limited weight’ to make their point.
700 of these analyses were submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the assessment for glyphosate.
The letter went on: “The EFSA, the European Chemicals Agency and the EU member states rely mainly on the original studies, the raw data submitted and the scientific literature published by peer-review, rather than on examinations of scientific research.”
Mr Juncker also drew the MEPs’ attention to the findings of other regulatory bodies in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, which have all concluded glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.
Crop Protection Association chief executive Sarah Mukherjee said: “It is encouraging to see President Juncker supporting the opinion of expert regulators on the safety of glyphosate and standing up to continued attempts to politicise the process.”
NFU chief arable advisor Guy Gagen also welcomed the comments, but said the French and German elections were likely to mean member states remained divided on the issue.
“We need to carry on showing support for its reauthorisation”, he added.
A decision on the future of glyphosate will be made by the end of this year.