The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published a risk assessment saying the herbicide ingredient glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans, Politico reported.
The agency's Committee for Risk Assessment found that “the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate for specific target organ toxicity, or as a carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substance”, according to the 30 May report.
ECHA’s latest announcement did not deviate from its opinion in 2017, when it did not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic, Politico wrote, but it did say that glyphosate could cause serious eye damage and was toxic to aquatic life.
The committee is due to publish its report by mid-August.
ECHA’s opinion is set to influence the European Union’s (EU) decision to ban or reauthorise the herbicide for use, according to the report, with the European Commission (EC) expected to make a recommendation by July 2023 at the earliest, following delays.
In the USA, thousands of litigants have taken legal action alleging that their non-Hodgkins' lymphomas was caused by Roundup, a herbicide sold by global agrochemical company Monsanto and now owned by German chemicals giant Bayer, which contains glyphosate, Politico wrote.
Bayer, which inherited the Roundup litigation in 2018 following its acquisition of the brand as part of its US$63bn purchase of Monsanto, has consistently denied claims that Roundup or its active ingredient glyphosate causes cancer, saying decades of independent studies have shown the product is safe for human use.
The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm concluded in 2015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, prompting the EU to renew it for five years instead of 15 in 2017.
ECHA's remit was to look at the inherent hazardousness of the substance, not its real-world risk of causing harm, the report said, and the European Food Safety Authority in Parma, Italy, was looking at that as part of a parallel study, due to be published next July.