“The risk assessment and peer review for glyphosate was the most comprehensive and transparent assessment of a pesticide that EFSA and the EU Member States have ever carried out, and EFSA stands firmly behind its conclusions,” the EU food safety watchdog said in a statement.
However, both EFSA and ECHA have previously acknowledged some shortcomings in the assessment, such as incomplete data on glyphosate’s effects on biodiversity and the lack of EU guidelines on how to consider evidence on the impact of pesticides on the microbiome.
A spokesperson for the Commission said the EU executive would respond to the NGOs’ requests for an internal review “in line with its legal requirements, and thoroughly analyze the claims.”
“The protection of human health and the environment are the very essence of the EU food safety rules. The Commission therefore always stands ready to review and, if necessary, further improve the EU’s processes and rules in the area of food safety,” the spokesperson added in a statement.
The application to extend the weedkiller’s EU license came from the Glyphosate Renewal Group, which includes Bayer, Syngenta and Nufarm.
“The Glyphosate Renewal Group trusts in the EU regulatory process and the comprehensive safety assessments carried out,” the group said in a statement.
The challenges could have significant implications for the future of the herbicide in the EU. If the Court of Justice overturns the reauthorization, it could pave the way for an outright ban or stricter curbs. The chemical is the most widely used pesticide in the world, accounting for a third, or around €1.5 billion, of all pesticides sold in the EU each year.
The Commission now has 16 weeks to respond to the requests for an internal review, which can be extended for an additional six weeks. The various challenging groups will then have two months and 10 days to challenge the response at the Court of Justice.