Glyphosate passes first EU safety review based on flawed studies

November 26, 2021

Scientists today criticised an early official agreement that Glyphosate is safe and can be used in Europe after its current licence ends next year. 

EU authorisation of Glyphosate, the world’s top-selling pesticide, expires in December 2022. As part of a long and opaque relicensing process, manufacturers led by Bayer submitted studies to officials from France, the Netherlands, Hungary and Sweden, acting at EU level, claiming that Glyphosate is safe. 

Today, an independent review by prominent cancer researchers found that Bayer’s dossier of studies is flawed. Out of 35 studies considered of acceptable quality by the officials, 18 were “not reliable”, the review found, while 15 others were “partly reliable” and only two were confirmed as “reliable”.

Lead author Siegfried Knasmüller said: “None of the most important knowledge gaps were addressed. None of the studies submitted by the manufacturers concerned the induction of DNA damage in the liver, and in other inner organs, while results of published studies with adequate methods indicate that the herbicide causes DNA damage in this organ. All test systems that were used in industry studies are more than 30 years old, and the most frequently used in vivo model applied in these industry studies detects only 5-6 out of 10 carcinogens, as most validation studies show." 

HEAL Senior Science Policy Officer, Dr Angeliki Lyssimachou, said: “Europe’s system has so far failed to detect these errors in the execution of the regulatory studies. Worryingly, these industry-sponsored studies are now at the heart of the current EU market approval process of glyphosate, and are clearly watering down all scientific evidence that glyphosate may cause cancer and is a danger to health.”

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in 2015 that there is “strong evidence” Glyphosate is genotoxic, and “probably carcinogenic to humans”, based on a comprehensive review of modern, peer-reviewed studies. But the officials in the Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG) rejected these studies and concluded that Glyphosate is safe and could be relicensed.

Officials refused to share details of the manufacturer’s dossier in previous licencing rounds. But a March 2019 ruling by the European Court of Justice found this was illegal. That allowed a first view of the shaky science underlying this latest AGG conclusion.

Eoin Dubsky, campaigner at SumOfUs said: “People across Europe are sick of poisonous pesticides. Our members want authorities to do a better job, and stop treating Glyphosate like it’s too big to fail. Stop studiously avoiding scientific evidence that’s bad news for Bayer.”

Chemicals policy expert for Global2000, Dr. Helmut Burtscher Schaden, said:The writing is on the wall for Glyphosate, which contaminates rivers and soil all over Europe and exposes millions of citizens daily. The new German government this week pledged to ban it, for example. Yet here we see EU officials deliberately ‘baking-in’ another relicensing. That is bad.

The AGG report will be scrutinised by various EU bodies before a final licencing decision is made by member state officials next year.

In 2019, a US court found that Roundup probably causes cancer and Bayer had acted maliciously in hiding this fact.


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SumOfUs is a global consumer watchdog policing against corporate practices harmful to workers, the environment, and democracy.  It is funded principally through small-donations from grassroots members worldwide.