No major areas of concern have been found during an assessment of glyphosate by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Glyphosate is a chemical used in some herbicide products. It is currently approved for use in the EU until mid-December 2023.

EFSA did not identify any critical areas of concern in its peer review of the risk assessment of glyphosate in relation to the risk it poses to humans and animals or the environment. However, some data gaps were highlighted.

Full conclusions are expected by the end of July 2023 and background documents are expected to be published between late August and mid-October.

The European Commission will analyze EFSA’s conclusions before putting forward a renewal report and draft regulation proposing renewal or non-renewal for the authorization of glyphosate.

Mixed reaction

The Glyphosate Renewal Group (GRG) welcomed the findings, which it said are consistent with assessments of health regulators around the world, as well as evidence from nearly 50 years of science.

The GRG is a group of companies seeking renewal of the EU authorization of the active substance glyphosate. Members include Albaugh Europe, Bayer Agriculture, Nufarm, and Syngenta Crop Protection.

Greenpeace said the move toward renewed market authorization puts people’s health at risk.

Eva Corral, Greenpeace EU pesticides campaigner, said: “For years the evidence of glyphosate’s toxicity for people and the environment has been stacking up, but EFSA has once again decided to sweep it under the carpet.”

“When it comes to health effects, robust scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports concerns about glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential as well as other impacts for human development, or the reproductive system – some of them with the ability to be transmitted across generations,” said Natacha Cingotti, health and chemicals program lead at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

EU Green Deal developments
The announcement comes days after the European Commission adopted a package for sustainable use of key natural resources, which it said would strengthen the resilience of EU food systems and farming.

Measures include a soil monitoring law, new genomic techniques for plants to enable development of climate-resilient crops and reduce use of chemical pesticides, and targets for food waste reduction. Proposals will next be discussed by the European Parliament and European Council. 

Nearly 59 million tons of food are wasted in the EU each year with estimated market value of €132 billion ($144 billion). The Commission proposed that, by 2030, member states reduce food waste by 10 percent, in processing and manufacturing, and by 30 percent, jointly at retail and consumption (restaurants, food services and households).

“We want to give our farmers the tools to produce healthy and safe food, adapted to our changing climatic conditions, and with respect for our planet. This includes new rules on the use of new genomic techniques and modernized rules on plants and forest seeds to boost diversity, sustainable practices, food security and drive EU competitiveness,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

“We are also stepping up our action against food waste to minimize food losses and reinforce our food security. We have an opportunity now to plan for the future, redesign the way we produce and consume our food and offer a larger choice of safe, sustainable and nutritious products to our citizens.”

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