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Glyphosate in Europe - EFSA and ECHA update timelines for assessments

Glyphosate is one of the most widely used active substances in pesticides to prevent unwanted plant growth around planted crops or to kill plants or parts of plants. Commonly named as “herbicides” or “weedkillers”. 

Glyphosat, a endocrine disruptor

Given the known toxicity of Glyphosate, the EU Pesticides Legislation imposes the issuing of time-limited authorizations, while concomitantly requiring a periodic reassessment of the active substances in order for their market licenses to be extended. The current five-year market authorization for glyphosate was set to expire on December 15th 2022 and now it will be extended.

In May 2019, the European Commission appointed France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden to act as a rapporteur Member States for the next assessment on glyphosate; named as Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG).

The draft Renewal Report submitted by AGG stated that glyphosate cannot qualify as an endocrine disruptor and included an application to set a MRL to establish a safe use of the substance in honey. This draft clearly relied on farmers to safely use the substance based on good agricultural practices, disregarding the well-established scientific evidence that led glyphosate to be considered a threat for bees and for biodiversity system. 

The consultations carried out by EFSA and ECHA on the draft assessments of glyphosate attracted an unprecedented number of comments, confirming the high level of interest in this substance. Such a level of public participation underlines the importance of transparency in the evaluation of active substances in the EU.

The input received from the consultations, together with the replies received by EFSA from the applicant (the Group on the Renewal of Glyphosate) in response to its request for additional information, added a significant amount of information to a dossier that already contained far more scientific data than are usually available for such assessments. 

New articles potentially relevant to the classification of glyphosate have been published, related to hazards as respiratory sensitisation, specific target organ toxicity – single exposure (respiratory irritation), germ cell mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and hazardous to the aquatic environment.

This additional information will be thoroughly considered by the Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG), that is now updating their initial draft renewal assessment report (dRAR). 

Against this background, EFSA and ECHA have revised the timeline for the remaining steps in the re-evaluation process.

ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) will discuss the hazard classification of glyphosate during its plenary meeting on 30-31 May. The Committee will consider carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, as well as the environmental classification. It will be published in July or August 2022. EFSA will consider it for the dRAR review, so the EFSA’s conclusions are expected to be made in July 2023.

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References

https://echa.europa.eu/hot-topics/glyphosate

Glyphosate: EFSA and ECHA update timelines for assessments

Renewal of approval of glyphosate in 2022 : The Assessment Group on Glyphosate releases its draft assessment

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