New RAC assessment on the risks of glyphosate

03 June 2022

On May 30th, The Risk Evaluation Committee (RAC) from ECHA published the conclusions of its assessment on the various risks of glyphosate. Based on hundreds of feedbacks from various stakeholders and scientific evidence, ECHA assessed the properties of glyphosate against the requirements of the Classification, Labeling and Packaging regulation.

As of 2017, The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has considered glyphosate to be neither carcinogenic, mutagenic, nor toxic, considering these classifications “unjustified.”

The latest ECHA opinion is essential in the debate over the potential reauthorization of glyphosate. Since the European Union prohibits the entry of pesticides considered unsafe onto its market, if glyphosate had been considered risky in one of the categories under the latest evaluation, the question of its reauthorization would not have arisen at all.

However, as the substance was only assessed as “dangerous to the eyes of users and toxic to aquatic organisms”, the application for re-authorization was not automatically rejected.

The license for the use of glyphosate in the European Union is currently valid until mid-December 2022. Glyphosate can therefore be used as an active substance in plant protection products (PPPs), subject to authorization by national authorities.

Following ECHA’s conclusions, EFSA must also assess the risks to consumers and workers as well as the environmental risks associated with the use of glyphosate. EFSA and ECHA, being the two European agencies in charge of assessing the potential hazards of glyphosate, have already announced a delay in the delivery of the conclusions for summer 2023, initially scheduled for mid-2022, caused by the large number of comments and criticisms received from civil society and member states.

This opinion of the ECHA has been called into question by several health and environmental NGOs. For several years, numerous scientific evidence has emerged, all qualifying glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2015). Health agencies have re-evaluated the risks of glyphosate after the IARC publication. Most of the reports concluded that there are many uncertainties, and that more knowledge is needed about glyphosate. EFSA has also recognized the likelihood that marketed products containing glyphosate and other substances have a higher toxicity.