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August 1, 2021

Glyphosate takes first step towards reauthorization in Europe in 2022

Put on hold for three years by the absence of regulatory issues, the controversy over glyphosate should restart. The four rapporteur states responsible for its reassessment returned to the European authorities, on Tuesday June 15, the working version of their expert report with a view to the re-authorization of the famous herbicide, scheduled for December 2022. Based on the analysis of the file regulatory data provided by the petitioners, this comprehensive report does not identify any toxicological property justifying the exclusion of glyphosate from the market.

According to the preliminary conclusions of the expert opinion, glyphosate is not carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic and does not meet the criteria required to be considered as an endocrine disruptor. The two EU regulatory agencies – the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – must now in turn examine the case to express their opinions. These are expected from spring 2022.

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The system put in place by the European Union for the reassessment of the product is unprecedented. Generally, a single rapporteur State, possibly assisted by a deputy, is responsible for establishing the preliminary expertise. The scale of the public controversy generated by the previous assessment, piloted by the German regulatory authorities and completed in 2017, has scalded the member states. This time four of them – Hungary, Sweden, the Netherlands and France – shared the work, and the potential political cost of the reauthorization.

France’s contribution to the process, through the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES), focused on ecotoxicological data. A less sensitive area of ​​expertise, only the effects on human health being able to impose a non-renewal of the product.

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Profond hiatus

In any case, the controversy with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is doomed to continue. Unlike the regulatory authorities, this agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), the main classification authority for carcinogenic agents in the world, has considered glyphosate since 2015 as a “probable carcinogen”. Such a classification would make it impossible to re-authorize the product, under European law on pesticides. But the regulatory authorities of the Old Continent (and the United States) do not share this opinion.

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