European agency does not classify glyphosate as a carcinogen

The European Chemicals Agency’s Committee for Risk Assessment has agreed to maintain the current harmonised classification of glyphosate as a substance causing serious eye damage and being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

But it concluded that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction.

The committee said it has assessed all the scientific data, including any scientifically relevant information received during the public consultation in summer 2016.

Its  classification is based solely on the hazardous properties of the substance. It does not take into account the likelihood of exposure to the substance and therefore does not address the risks of exposure.

The Science Media Centre has posted two expert opinions from Britain (HERE) on the ruling.

Prof Jan Hengstler, Head of the Department of Toxicology / Systems Toxicology, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADO), TU Dortmund, Dortmund, comments:

“The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Committee on Risk Assessment (RAC) has concluded that the substance glyphosate does not meet the criteria to be classified as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction. This conclusion is scientifically justified. Both the available long-term studies in rats and mice as well as epidemiological data do not justify the conclusion that glyphosate is carcinogenic or mutagenic. Under current conditions of use of glyphosate there is no increased cancer risk for humans. Compared to other herbicides, a relatively large number of studies is available on the substance glyphosate, so that a comparatively good assessment with regard to the carcinogenic risk is possible. The conclusion of the ECHA is not surprising, since no new studies were available compared to earlier evaluations.”

Prof Alan Boobis, Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology, Imperial College London, comments:

“ECHA are to be congratulated on their critical evaluation of a large and complex dataset on glyphosate. They have concluded that the totality of the evidence is that glyphosate should not be considered a human carcinogen. It is important that such objective, independent and comprehensive assessments are available to help policy makers in reaching evidence-based decisions”

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