(Removes reference in paragraph 9 of May 17 story to EFSA
welcoming ECHA's opinion)
BRUSSELS May 17 The European Commission will
propose extending by 10 years its approval for weed-killer
glyphosate, used in Monsanto's Roundup, a spokeswoman
said on Wednesday.
A transatlantic row over possible risks to human health has
prompted investigations by congressional committees in the
United States, and in Europe has forced a delay to a
re-licensing decision for Monsanto's big-selling Roundup
A new study issued in March by the European Chemical Agency
(ECHA) paved the way for the Commission's decision to restart
negotiations with EU nations over renewing the licence for
glyphosate, despite opposition from environmental groups.
The EU body, which regulates chemicals and biocides, said
glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, should not be
classified as a substance causing cancer.
A spokeswoman for the Commission said it had "taken into
account the latest state of scientific research and would "work
with the Member States to find a solution that enjoys the
largest possible support."
No date has yet been set for when discussions with
representatives of EU member states will start.
Pending the results of the ECHA study, the EU granted an
18-month extension last July of its approval for the weed killer
after a proposal for full licence renewal met opposition from
member states and campaign groups.
While the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, the
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classifies
glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic", many other government
regulators, including in the United States, see the weed killer
as unlikely to pose a cancer risk to humans.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has found that
glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to
But environmental groups said doubts remain over its safety.
"It makes no sense to accept the wide range of risks
associated with glyphosate," said Bart Staes, a Green group
member of the European Parliament.
The decision to seek a 10-year rather than a longer approval
was also criticised by supporters of the herbicide. The European
Crop Protection group called it "short-sighted", saying it
pandered to activists.
According to data published by IARC, glyphosate was
registered in over 130 countries as of 2010 and is one of the
world's most heavily used weed killers.
Analysts have estimated that Monsanto could lose out on up
to $100 million of sales if glyphosate was banned in Europe.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Editing by Mark