If there is one certainty about glyphosate, it is that the saga of its cycles of reassessment by regulatory authorities is never short of twists and turns. Here is a new one with the announcement, Tuesday, May 10, that the European expertise necessary for its reauthorization would not come to an end until July 2023, and not during the second half of 2022 as initially planned. In a joint statement, the two agencies responsible for the re-evaluation – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – invoke the large number of comments made by experts from the Member States and civil society to the preliminary assessment report.
In a statement, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said “deeply concerned about [ce] delay ” but took note “the great interest aroused by the evaluation process”. “It is extremely important that all new evidence is carefully considered and taken into account”, she added. Barring a new twist, this unforeseen event should lead Europe to allow, in 2023, the exceptional use of the controversial herbicide, its authorization expiring on December 15, 2022.
In hollow, the embolization of the process suggests an intensification of the controversy over the safety of the herbicide, the most widely used pesticide in the world. The dispute began in 2015 with its classification as genotoxic and a “probable carcinogen” – an opinion with which EFSA and ECHA disagree. A disagreement reiterated in June 2021 by the regulatory agencies of the four reporting States (France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden) responsible for drawing up the preliminary report of the European expertise. This text of several thousand pages considers that glyphosate does not meet any of the prohibition criteria (carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reprotoxicity, endocrine disruption).
Subject to public consultation, this June 2021 report generated more than 350 comments from civil society and scientific institutions, as well as some 2,400 comments from experts in the Member States, according to ECHA and EFSA. “All of these contributions now constitute a file of approximately 3,000 pages”, detail the two agencies. A file which must be submitted to the manufacturers and agencies of the four reporting States responsible for the preliminary assessment. The delay, say ECHA and EFSA, “results from the obligation to study in detail all the comments received”.
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