Earlier this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that the popular weed killer glyphosate (Roundup is one brand name) is a "probable" human carcinogen. Bioluddites rejoiced because the herbicide is generally paired with modern biotech crops that are engineered to resist its effects, enabling farmers to keep their fields weed free. In the wake of the IARC report, the French Minister of Ecology asked garden centers in France to stop selling the product.
"France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides," said ecology minister Ségolène Royal.
The California EPA made moves toward having the product listed on that state's capacious list of carcinogens as required by its infamous Proposition 65.
Perhaps the regulators in France and California should reconsider. The highly cautious European Food Safety Authority issued its evaluation last week and determined that "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential." The EFSA took the IARC's ruling into account when it made its finding.
Naturally, the bioluddites are unhappy. Spokes-alarmist for the European branch of the Pesticide Action Network Hans Muilerman declared:
"EFSA's opinion violates the precautionary principle; BfR[German Agency] and EFSA only conclude to adverse effects in case of overwhelming evidence; in case of doubt they give the advantage of the doubt to industry instead of giving priority to the protection of human health and the environment."
Glyphosate is undergoing registration review at the U.S. EPA, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle. Let's hope that American bureaucrats turn out to be as reasonable as those in Europe.