If glyphosate were a new product about which scientists are still uncertain, there could be a justification for invoking the “precautionary principle” as demanded by politicians and NGOs lobbying for a ban. However, glyphosate has a long history of safe use, and the residues on the foods that we eat, if any, are well within the legal and safety limits.
Thousands of studies and the European regulatory authorities have so far concluded that glyphosate does not pose any unacceptable risk to human health, the environment or non-target animals and plants. The European Union’s (EU) most recent assessment of glyphosate has taken three years, involving scientific experts from the EU’s food safety authority (EFSA), and chemicals agency (ECHA) and national authorities in all 28 Member States. Though it originally recommended an extension of a further 15 years, the European Commission has extended approval of glyphosate as an active substance for just 18 months, pending a further opinion from ECHA at the end of 2017.
Though we fully support the continuing investigations and are sensitive to people’s concerns, notably regarding additives, we fear that by responding to popular, unscientific pressure politicians may be undermining the scientific basis in the EU’s approvals process. We would like glyphosate to be the subject of a real dialogue because we are absolutely confident that its demonstrable benefits far outweigh any theoretical risks.