Regulators in France are preparing to ban dozens of glyphosate products, after concluding that links to cancer and other adverse health effects can’t be ruled out.
The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) announced last Monday that it was withdrawing the marketing license for 36 glyphosate-containing products. After the end of next year, those products will no longer be authorized for sale in the country.
The regulator has also rejected applications to launch four new glyphosate-based products.
“ANSES has decided that 36 of these products will be withdrawn from the market and will no longer be allowed for use from the end of 2020, due to a lack or absence of scientific data which would allow all genotoxical risk to be ruled out,” the regulator said.
The products affected by the impeding ban account for about 1/3 of glyphosate sales in France. They include several versions of Monsanto Roundup, other Bayer-owned herbicides, as well as other glyphosate brands marketed by about a dozen other companies.
ANSES plans to complete its glyphosate review by the end of the year and will only allow those that meet European Union criteria and lack adequate alternatives to remain on the market.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup, is the most popular herbicide in the world. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after its independent review linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Earlier this year, University of Washington researchers suggested glyphosate exposure increased the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by as much as 41%. And in April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said it couldn’t rule out a cancer link and called for further investigation.
However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to maintain that glyphosate is safe.
Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in June 2018, is defending more than 43,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits in courts around the United States. Plaintiffs claim Monsanto has worked for years to conceal the true association between glyphosate and cancer, including waging an aggressive campaign to discredit the IARC review. Among other things, they assert that Monsanto personnel manipulated and ghostwrote positive glyphosate studies, and even leveraged close relationships with the EPA and other regulators to unduly influence their reviews of the herbicide.
The first three Monsanto Roundup lawsuits have already gone to trial, with every jury finding for the plaintiffs. Bayer is now participating in a court ordered mediation effort aimed at resolving the massive litigation, which is being led by Kenneth Feinberg, the prominent attorney behind the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and other high-profile legal settlements.
Earlier this month, two Roundup lawsuit trials slated to get underway in January 2020 were postponed to allow the parties more time to focus on settlement discussions.