Alliance joins with EU organisations to call for serious discussion on the future of Glyphosate in the EU

In a follow up to a letter sent in April to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, calling for the suspension of Glyphosate for public and professional use as a precautionary measure. The alliance has signed a subsequent letter initiated by Greenpeace and signed by Friends of the Earth Europe, the Health and Environment Alliance, and Pesticide Action Network Europe. The letter addresses our concerns regarding the scope of the EU Commission’s request to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings on glyphosate.

Glyphosate is used in a large number of weedkillers and is the most commonly used weedkiller in the world. It is sold by the original manufacturer, Monsanto, as Roundup, although it is found in other brands such as Bayer, Rosate and Rodeo. It is also used in a lot of supermarket and garden centre own-brands.

Workers face particular risk due to frequent exposure. No workers should be put at risk of exposure to any substance that can lead to cancer. All substances that could be hazardous to health are covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). These state that the employer must try to prevent exposure totally. If that is not possible they should control it so the risk of harm is ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’

Glyphosate is used widely in parks, gardens footpaths, railway line and in forestry in the UK. There is no requirement to notify the general public of spraying. The only evidence of spraying maybe dry and browning vegetation. This is real health issue to people and animals using public parks. Small children are especially at risk due to their close contact with the ground and their frequence hand to mouth gestures. Dogs are also at risk due to sniffing and eating grasses.

EFSA has been charged with doing a peer review of the findings by IARC on the potential carcinogenicity of glyphosate or glyphosate-containing plant protection products. The Commission requested EFSA to ‘ “investigate the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate raised by IARC” and whether an amendment to the original proposal in regard to the classification of glyphosate is neccesary.

The letter outlines our concerns that the scope of the request is too narrow and that establishing a ‘firm causality’ would be difficult when IARC itself classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2A), not as “carcinogenic to humans” (Class 1). It has found “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans” as well as “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals”, but not “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans”. We therefore believe that it is unrealistic to expect that EFSA will establish “a firm causality” between human exposure and the development of cancer when IARC did not.

The letter asks the Commission to revise the EFSA request. The signed letter

The Alliance has also joined 308 other organisations in an appeal calling for a ban on Highly Hazardous Pesticide (HHPs). Decades of experience has shown that, despite numerous ‘safe use’ programs, the ’safe use’ of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) is not possible.

People, farm animals, wildlife and the environment continue to suffer considerable harm from HHPs. After decades of failure which have seen millions of deaths worldwide, new policies are needed to stop pesticide poisonings. A progressive phase out and ban of HHPs, along with new policies for supporting alternatives, can make a change towards a healthy and sustainable world for all. We call on governments and corporations to take concrete steps towards a progressive ban of HHPs and their substitution with ecosystem-based alternatives.

Please sign the petition here.

The Trade Unions Congress is calling for union safety reps to ensure workers are not exposed to a cancer-causing pesticide. No workers should be put at risk of exposure to any substance that can lead to cancer. A new briefing says because of the unquestionable risks posed by glyphosate, which can also cause short- and long-term skin, eye and respiratory problems and serious liver and kidney damage, it is “necessary to try to prevent any workers coming into contact with glyphosate.”

A study in New York found evidence of cancer link with park spraying. But advice to spray yet more chemicals to clean children’s hands means more exposure to susbtances like antibacterials.

To find out how one company has control of so much of the worlds food supply check out this great video from The Undercurrent.

The best solution – avoid pesticide usage altogether.