French Government Official: Stop Selling Roundup
Reuters is reporting that The French Environment and Energy Minister, Segolene Royal, has asked garden shops in France to stop over-the-counter sales of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Her announcement comes after French consumer association CLCV (Consumption, Housing and Environment) asked French and European officials to stop selling glyphosate-based products to amateur gardeners. From the CLCV website on June 5th:
“CLCV challenges the French and European health agencies and the Minister of Agriculture about the most used herbicide in France. We particularly request to suspend its marketing self-service for domestic use (gardeners).”
The main question: is Minister Royal basing her decision on science-based evidence?
The answer: apparently not.
A 2013 systematic review of glyphosate by the German Institute for Risk Assessment examined epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in-vitro studies that it found valid, and found that “no classification and labeling for carcinogenicity is warranted” and did not recommend a carcinogen classification.
The US Environmental Protection Agency, which last reviewed glyphosate in 1993, considers glyphosate to be noncarcinogenic and relatively low in dermal and oral acute toxicity. The EPA considered a “worst case” dietary risk model of an individual eating a lifetime of food derived entirely from glyphosate-sprayed fields with residues at their maximum levels. This model indicated that no adverse health effects would be expected under such conditions.
And another systematic review conducted in 2000 revealed:
“Experimental evidence has shown that neither glyphosate nor AMPA bioaccumulates in any animal tissue. No significant toxicity occurred in acute, subchronic, and chronic studies.”
The Minister, and CLCV, are relying on a March 2015 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They published a summary of their forthcoming monograph on glyphosate, and classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans”. However, the IARC report has been criticized for cherry-picking the data, among other flaws.
As Steve Novella summed up in a blog post at the beginning of 2015:
“… numerous published systematic reviews show clear evidence that glyphosate has very low toxicity. More careful study when it comes to any agent being used as heavily as glyphosate is always welcome. Science is complicated, and it is always a good idea to consider factors that may have been previously missed. However, failure to show any adverse effect from glyphosate in epidemiological studies is very reassuring. Given its widespread use, any adverse effect must be tiny or non-existent to be missed by the evidence we have so far.”
So once again, science takes a back seat to knee-jerk policy making.