European Chemicals Agency: Glyphosate does not cause cancer
In June 2016, the European Commission agreed to a temporary 18-month extension of the glyphosate approval. In the meantime, the active substance was to be assessed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), following previous assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and national authorities. In March 2017, ECHA finally confirmed the assessments of the other authorities: according to available scientific evidence, glyphosate cannot be classed as carcinogenic.
The role of ECHA
ECHA is responsible for a harmonised classification process for chemical substances in the European Union. It classifies chemicals according to possible hazardous properties and stipulates the labelling and packaging necessary for such substances using consistent, strictly scientific criteria. The substances can then be used safely, without danger to human health or the environment
The assessment process
Glyphosate was subjected to one of ECHA’s comprehensive assessments from mid-2016 to spring 2017. First, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) drew up a classification proposal under Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 (CLP Regulation) because Germany is the rapporteur member state for glyphosate. The BAuA found no scientific facts to indicate that glyphosate should be classed as carcinogenic.
In line with the standard ECHA process, the proposal then went to a public consultation and was assessed by ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC). The RAC examined all the available scientific studies, as well as the results of a public consultation held in summer 2016.
The expert report published in March 2017 once again confirms the existing classification: glyphosate does not cause cancer and does not cause organ damage. According to ECHA’s assessment, glyphosate does not have any mutagenic, reprotoxic or genotoxic properties either.
The ECHA assessment is therefore in line with the official conclusions of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the WHO/FAO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). A decision is due this year, based on the ECHA assessment, as to whether glyphosate will continue to be approved in Europe.
Last update: 03 July 2017