EU glyphosate renewal moves a step forward following scientific review

Published 13 July 2021

Crops Horticulture and potatoes Science and technology

A recent review of the active ingredient glyphosate supports the conclusion that glyphosate-based products are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.

The Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG) consists of four EU member states (France, Hungary, Sweden and the Netherlands). AGG has been conducting a review of glyphosate’s toxicity ahead of the active ingredient’s expiry date of 15 December 2022.

The draft Renewal Assessment Report (dRAR) was published on 15 June 2021 and submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for the next stage of the review process. The report concludes that glyphosate 'meets the approval criteria for human health' and recommends approval 'as an active substance to be used in plant protection products'.

Conclusions of the report

  • The report highlights that 'taking all the evidence into account i.e. animal experiments, epidemiological studies and statistical analyses … the AGG proposes that a classification of glyphosate with regard to carcinogenicity is not justified'.
  • The report also concludes that classification of glyphosate as toxic for reproduction, for germ cell mutagenicity genotoxic or mutagenic is not justified.
  • The report proposes that classification for specific target organ toxicity 'is not justified, neither for single nor repeated exposure'.
  • The report states that 'no chronic acute consumer risk is expected from treatment of crops with glyphosate, according to the representative uses for the current renewal process'.
  • The AGG recommends that, based on the available toxicological information, the current classification as 'causes serious eye damage' should be retained.
  • The report recommends more conservative reference values for use in risk assessments for human health, and says the eco-toxicological information available indicates it should continue to be considered toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

The NFU's senior regulatory affairs adviser Dr Chris Hartfield said:

“This review, completed by regulatory scientific experts across four EU countries is a significant evidence-based step forward in the ongoing renewal process for glyphosate.
"Glyphosate reduces the need to use other herbicides, helps to protect soil and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing. It also enables British farmers to grow crops that help produce safe, affordable and high-quality British food.”

What's the next stage in the review process?

The next stage of the active ingredient’s review process will involve public consultations on the dRAR, to be launched in September. EFSA will carry out a peer review and ECHA’s Risk Assessment Committee will review glyphosate’s safety classification by March 2022. The European Commission will then prepare a proposal on whether or not to renew the authorisation which will be subject to approval by member states.

Glyphosate is currently authorised for use in the EU until 15 December 2022. The GB active substance approval for glyphosate expires on 15 December 2025.

More information

You can read a summary of the draft Renewal Assessment Report at the European Commission website.

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