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Amid continuing concerns over the risk of cancer from certain herbicides, France has banned the sale of Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer at garden centers throughout the country.
The move was announced last week by France’s Ecological Minister. The extent of the ban was unclear, however, French officials have said they plan to ban the use of all pesticides for home-gardening by 2022. The country is the European Union’s largest producer of agricultural goods.
The decision comes just two months after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) labeled the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, as a “probable carcinogen.”
IARC is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research division. The group released a report last month in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology, identifying five pesticides and herbicides as probably cancer-causing agents. The chemicals cited in the report include glyphosate, tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, and diazinon.
The list was compiled by 17 experts from 11 different countries.
The determination by IARC outraged officials at Monsanto, the makers of Roundup, the most popular herbicide in the world. Monsanto officials called IARC’s determination “junk science” that was conducted based on an anti-Monsanto agenda.
Concerns regarding the safety of Roundup prompted a special EPA meeting last year to discuss the safety of glyphosate. The EPA heard from scientists, environmentalists and concerned mothers regarding the potential side effects of Roundup to decide on whether to place further restriction on the chemical, a decision is expected this year.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last year revealed pesticide residue is found in half of all food in the U.S. More than 8,500 samples of fruit, vegetables, infant formula, butter, salmon, groundwater and drinking water were tested for the study. Half contained detectable levels of pesticide residue, however 23 samples exceeded EPA safe tolerance limits.
Weed killers are commonly detected in the air, food and water near areas that have been sprayed, according to the report.