Roundup Cancer Concerns May Lead To Compromise On European License

European regulators are proposing a compromise that would allow the re-licensing of glyphosate-based weed killers throughout Europe, despite rising concerns about a potential increased risk of cancer from exposure to Roundup and other similar products. 

According to a report by The Guardian in the U.K., a leaked proposal put forward by the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, would authorize the use of Roundup and other glyphosate products for 10 years, instead of the standard 15. However, the Commission would consider an immediate ban if Roundup cancer concerns are verified by a European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) study that is expected to be completed next year.

If true, the agreement would be a compromise between the usual 15-year licenses granted to herbicides and pesticides, and countries who called for the license to not be renewed at all.

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In March 2015, the World Heath Orgainization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that the popular herbicide glyphosate is likely a cancer-causing agent.

The warning has resulted in increasing concerns worldwide about the potential link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as other forms of cancer.

At a meeting last month, the countries of Italy, France, Sweden and the Netherlands opposed the renewal of a 15-year license for glyphosate. The current license could expire in June 2016 if the chemical is not re-approved.

In a vote of 347 to 225, the European parliament this month urged glyphosate restrictions and called for Roundup and other similar weedkillers to only be renewed for seven years.

While the parliament resolution vote is non-binding, it is expected to heavily influence a European Union (EU) pesticides committee that is scheduled to meet May 18-19 to determine the relicensing of glyphosate.

Monsanto has aggressively criticized the decision to list their Roundup as a human carcinogen, dismissing the IARC findings as agenda driven and based on “junk science.”

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also conflicted with the IARC findings, declaring glyphosate to be safe. Scientists and supporters on both sides of the debate have called the processes of the other unscientific, and the European Commission has delayed the renewal of glyphosate’s license across Europe.

European officials hope that the ECHA study will resolve the conflicting findings between the IARC and EFSA. However, the study is expected to take about 18 months and has not yet begun.

Environmentalists are already protesting the leaked plan. However, it is unclear whether the information obtained by The Guardian is the plan’s final form.

Roundup Lawsuits In the U.S.

A recent U.S. Geological Survey on glyphosate usage nationwide found that an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide has been sprayed on America’s agricultural land over the two decades since the mid-1990s, when Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops that are designed to survive being sprayed with glyphosate, killing the weeds but not the crops.

In all that time, the FDA has never tested for residue or buildup in the food sold to Americans nationwide. In a report published in 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the FDA for this deficiency in its pesticide program.

Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits in the United States, typically involving individuals diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following heavy exposure to the herbicide as a farm or agricultural worker.

The complaints allege that plaintiffs may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if they had been warned about the Roundup risks for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.


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