Thursday, November 30, 2017

EU Votes to Renew Roundup License for 5 Years

On Monday representatives of the 28 European Union Countries voted to extend the license of the weed-killer glyphosate for the next five years. Glyphosate (N-phosphonomethylglycine), the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup  is manufactured by Monsanto (though the formulation is no longer under patent) and is the most popular herbicide in use today in the United States, and the European Union.

The news release issued by the European Union’s Brussels office stated that 18 countries had backed its proposal to renew the chemical’s license. Nine countries voted against and Portugal abstained, giving a “positive opinion” by the narrowest possible margin under rules requiring both a majority of countries but also the countries representing a majority of the European Union’s 500 million citizens.

The final vote came after two years of wrestling with the issue among the 28 member states in Brussels. Germany had abstained in previous votes, but finally backed a European Commission proposal supported by Spain and the still member United Kingdom against the wishes of France.

Glyphosate was labeled a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, which is the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, which two yeas ago labeled five insect and weed killers including glyphosate potential carcinogens. It based its finding on “limited evidence” of carcinogenicity in humans and “sufficient evidence” in experimental animals. It said, among other things, that there was a “positive association” between glyphosate and blood cancers.

However, Aaron Blair, the epidemiologist from the U.S. National Cancer Institute who chaired the meeting that found glyphosate a potential carcinogen had seen important unpublished scientific data from research showing no evidence of a link between glyphosate and cancer. According to Reuters new service in a sworn deposition given in March of 2017 Aaron Blair said that the data if reported to the IARC would have altered their analysis and made it less likely that glyphosate would meet the agency’s criteria for being classed as “probably carcinogenic.”

Reuters reviewed court documents from an ongoing U.S. legal case against Monsanto and spoke to both Monsanto representatives, representative from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and Aaron Blair and reported: that Monsanto representatives told Reuters reporters that “the data was deliberately concealed by Blair, but provided no specific evidence of it being hidden.”

Aaron Blair “told Reuters the data, which was available two years before IARC assessed glyphosate, was not published in time because "there was too much to fit into one scientific paper. "

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