A European scientific council has determined glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s weed killer Roundup, should not be classified as a cancer-causing substance.
The European Chemical Agency (ECHA), which regulates chemicals on the market in Europe, considered numerous scientific studies in a global battle between agri-chemical companies, organic activists and policymakers.
“This conclusion was based both on the human evidence and the weight of the evidence of all the animal studies reviewed,” Tim Bowmer, chairman of ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment, told reporters after the decision Wednesday, according to Reuters.
The ECHA found that “the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen,” the group said in a press release. The group still classifies glyphosate as “a substance causing serious eye damage and being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects,” according to the statement.
The Roundup battle spans the Atlantic, with one part of the World Health Organization, which studies cancer, claiming Roundup “probably” causes cancer. A joint study between the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and WHO, however, said the chemical is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”
Monsanto’s troubles are far from over. The company still needs approval from the European Commission, with the input of EU member states, to continue to sell Roundup in Europe.
“It’s up to the Commission now,” Jack de Bruijn, ECHA’s Director of Risk Management, said. “We are confident that indeed we have no issue at all in terms of the transparency and independence of this opinion.”
In America, California received permission from a superior court Monday to label Roundup as a possible carcinogen.
Monsanto is also fighting several lawsuits claiming Roundup contributed to cases of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. And the New York Times reported Tuesday that an Environmental Protection Agency employee colluded with Monsanto to stop a study of glyphosate that the government was preparing in 2015.
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