The available scientific evidence does not allow classifying glyphosate, a controversial herbicide used massively around the world, as a carcinogen, estimated Tuesday by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
"ECHA's Risk Assessment Committee has formed its independent scientific opinion: the current classification of glyphosate does not change," ECHA's risk assessment director Mark Rasenberg told AFP..
Glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, is currently classified as "damaging to eyes" and "toxic to aquatic environments".
"After a thorough review of the scientific evidence, the Committee again concludes that a classification of glyphosate as a carcinogen is not warranted," ECHA said in a statement.
This assessment is essential for the European Commission to decide whether or not to extend the authorization issued to the herbicide in the EU.
The current authorization, extended in 2017 for five years, expires on December 15, 2022, but it will be automatically extended until the end of the evaluation process unless a particular risk is identified in the meantime.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) had postponed until July 2023 EFSA's conclusions on "all possible risks of exposure to glyphosate for animals, humans and the environment", a report initially expected in the "second half of 2022", in order to be able to "take into consideration" hundreds of contributions.
European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said she was "deeply concerned" by this postponement.
The World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate in March 2015 as "probably carcinogenic" to humans.
The Glyphosate Assessment Panel made up of four rapporteur Member States (France, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Sweden), is due to provide EFSA with an updated opinion by the end of September, before a series of consultations and final conclusions of the regulator.
France has set itself the goal of phasing out most of the uses of this weedkiller classified as a "probable carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2021, before a total ban in 2023. Agricultural organizations oppose it, pointing to the absence of an alternative product.