Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

French Minister Seeks to Restrict Weed Killers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

French Minister Seeks to Restrict Weed Killers

Article excerpt

If Ecology Minister Segolene Royal has her way, amateur gardeners in France will no longer be able to purchase weed-killers containing glyphosate, citing health concerns.

"France must be offensive on stopping pesticides," Royal said of the herbicides on French television, according to Reuters.

In a March report, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Originally developed in the 1970s by Monsanto under the name Roundup, glyphosate has been available in generic forms after the company's last commercial patent expired in 2000. Roundup remains the world's most widely used weed-killer, according to the IARC.

The IARC study said glyphosate is most commonly used in agriculture, as opposed to gardening. The study showed "limited evidence of carcinogenicity" in humans and "sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity" in laboratory animals.

Monsanto, a frequent target of environmental and anti-GMO protests, has pushed back against the IARC classification. The company told Reuters in an email, "Under the conditions recommended on the label, the product does not present any particular risk for the user."

Monsanto also released a statement criticizing the report. It said, "Relevant, scientific data was excluded from review. IARC received and purposefully disregarded dozens of scientific studies - specifically genetic toxicity studies - that support the conclusion glyphosate is not a human health risk."

The IARC did acknowledge in the report that the US Environmental Protection Agency classified glyphosate as having "evidence of non- carcinogenicity" in humans in 1991. But it also pointed to other studies showing that the chemical caused chromosomal and DNA damage in human cells, was linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans exposed to it, and had strong carcinogenic results in laboratory animals. …

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