The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), in clear contradiction with reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), announced Wednesday that it will not classify glyphosate as a potential carcinogen. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the mostly widely used herbicides in the world (every year 800,000 tons end up in fields and gardens) produced by Monsanto and other global agrochemical giants.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had shown an increase in incidence of tumors in two studies involving laboratory mice.
Some of the members of the ECHA expert committee have worked for chemical companies, causing dozens of European environmental groups to complain of a blatant conflict of interest. Nevertheless, the committee admitted that the substance could cause serious eye damage and be toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. Wednesday’s opinion is not binding, but it will certainly influence the European Commission’s decision later this year on whether to authorize the use of glyphosate for another 15 years. The European Commission will consider ECHA’s report this summer.