11-10-2017 09:00
The Monsanto papers and glyphosate

Structural model of glyphosate molecule on a blackboard.
Public hearing on Glyphosate - Monsanto Papers © European Union

On 11 October, a joint ENVI/AGRI public hearing was held on "The Monsanto papers and glyphosate”. Glyphosate is a widely used, but highly controversial plant protection product and the active substance in Monsanto's weed killer Roundup. EFSA and ECHA concluded that glyphosate is safe, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified it as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

At the hearing, the scientific basis for the risk assessment of glyphosate was discussed, as well as the alleged influence of industry on this assessment in the US and the EU. The focus was on the so-called "Monsanto papers": in the context of a US court case brought by plaintiffs claiming that they got cancer due to glyphosate exposure, internal Monsanto emails were released suggesting that the scientific assessment of glyphosate might have been influenced by Monsanto.

The hearing took place against the background of the ongoing debate over the renewal of glyphosate's approval. The current EU approval expires on 15 December 2017, and the Commission has proposed a renewal for ten years. The hearing should provide Parliament with the necessary information to decide on possible follow-up action.