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Parliamentary questions
27 June 2011
E-006135/2011
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Michail Tremopoulos (Verts/ALE)

 Subject: Public kept in the dark on Roundup link with birth defects
 Answer(s) 

Industry and EU regulators knew as long ago as the 1980s and 1990s that Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide, causes birth defects — but they failed to inform the public. This is the conclusion of a new report, ‘Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?’, co-authored by a group of international scientists and researchers and released recently(1). The report reveals that industry’s own studies showed as long ago as the 1980s that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals. The German Government has known about these findings since at least the 1990s, when as the ‘rapporteur’ for glyphosate, it reviewed industry studies for the EU approval of the herbicide. The Commission has known since 2002, when it signed off on glyphosate’s approval. As recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, BVL, told the Commission there was ‘no evidence of “teratogenicity” for glyphosate’. BVL made this comment in its rebuttal(2) of an independent study published last year showing that Roundup and glyphosate cause birth defects in frogs and chickens at concentrations much lower than those used in agricultural spraying(3). In its rebuttal of the Argentine study, BVL cited as proof of glyphosate’s safety the industry studies submitted for the Commission’s 2002 approval of glyphosate. The new report shows that those industry studies do not prove the safety of glyphosate but rather confirm that glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals. Glyphosate was due to be reviewed in 2012. But last year, the Commission delayed the review of glyphosate until 2015(4).

1. Is the Commission aware of the new report, ‘Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?’

2. Is the Commission aware of the findings of the industry studies from the 1980s and 1990s (presented in the new report) showing that glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals?

3. In light of these findings, will the Commission cancel the delay in the review of glyphosate and order an immediate independent review of the findings of the original industry studies according to the new data requirements (scheduled to be published this month), also taking into consideration the entirety of the independent scientific literature on glyphosate and Roundup, as the new Pesticide Regulation (EC) No1107/2009 demands?

(1)Antoniou, M., Habib, M., Howard, C.V., Jennings, R.C., Leifert, C., Nodari, R. O., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., 2011. Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?, Earth Open Source. June (http://www.scribd.com/doc/57277946/RoundupandBirthDefectsv5).
(2)BVL, Germany. 2010. Glyphosate — Comments from Germany on the paper by Paganelli, A. et al. (2010): ‘Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling’, 19 October (http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/File:BVL2010.comments.Paganelli.pdf).
(3)Paganelli, A., Gnazzo, V. et al., 2010. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem Res Toxicol 23(10): 1586–1595.
(4)European Commission, 2010. Commission Directive 2010/77/EU of 10 November 2010 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC as regards the expiry dates for inclusion in Annex I of certain active substances, OJ L 230, 19.8.1991.

 OJ C 128 E, 03/05/2012
Last updated: 29 June 2011Legal notice