In a letter to the European Commission dated this Saturday and published by the campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory, US cancer and public health specialist Dr Christopher Portier claimed that recent assessments by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) did not take into account all occurrences of cancer observed while testing glyphosate on animals.
A former director of the US National Center for Environmental Health and of the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Portier claims to have found eight new instances of significant tumour increases in rodents in the studies reviewed by EFSA and ECHA.
Dr Portier’s findings emerged from the raw data from the studies, which remain unpublished because they are deemed commercially sensitive for the manufacturers.
The European Parliament obtained partial access to the raw data last year to allow public scrutiny of decisions on glyphosate. MEPs provided the data to Dr Portier for this purpose.
Anti-glyphosate campaigners have repeatedly cited the secrecy surrounding the data used in toxicity assessments by public bodies to justify a ban on the chemical behind Monsanto’s Roundup and other popular herbicides.
Dr Portier disclosed in his letter that he is expert witness for a US law firm involved in glyphosate litigation and contributes to the Environmental Defense Fund campaign group on issues not related to glyphosate or other pesticides.
In his letter, Dr Portier calls on European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to instruct the appropriate agencies to review the evidence submitted” and “refrain from making any decisions on glyphosate until these positive findings are included”. He also seeks the full publication of study data on this chemical.
A committee bringing together Commission and member states experts is due to decide on the re-authorisation of glyphosate before it expires at the end of this year. The Commission is proposing a 10-year renewal.
“After a thorough assessment from the European Food Safety Authority, after a thorough assessment from the European Chemicals Agency, today we have clear scientific evidence that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, is not mutagenic, is not dangerous for reproductive health of people,” European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis told the Irish Farmers Journal last week.