New report claims glyphosate has 'serious adverse' health effects

The controversial substance glyphosate has serious adverse health effects, including on sexual and reproductive health, according to a new report published this week.
Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

18 May 2018

This was the main finding of a study by the Italy-based Ramazzini Institute, which presented the results of a pilot study on glyphosate at a news briefing in Parliament.

The study is part of the institute’s glyphosate project currently being conducted in partnership with Italian and US institutes and universities.

Its publication coincides with a key meeting of the EU’s special committee on the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST).


The Ramazzini Institute pilot forms part of a wide study, aimed for completion by 2022, the year when the authorisation renewal process for the popular weed-killer in the EU is due to start.

Speaking at the briefing in Parliament, Fiorella Belpoggi, Director of the Istituto Ramazzini’s Research Area,  said, “Today we can state that even at thresholds considered safe and under a relatively brief exposure period, glyphosate and its formulations are capable of altering certain significant biological parameters. 

“In light of these results, it is absolutely necessary to deepen the investigation on reproduction and development, and to acquire independent data on carcinogenesis.”

Belpoggi said only if this happens will it be possible for the European Parliament, in 2022, to take decisions based on the “solid basis on independent science.”

“We very much hope that, in addition to helping us with economic support, the EU institutions will want to take part in the technical scientific board that will manage the course of the study at the premises of our labs.”

Also appearing at the same news conference, Greens/EFA group co-leader Philippe Lamberts, said, “With the European Parliament currently assessing the authorisation procedure for pesticides, this is a timely contribution to the debate around the potential dangers of glyphosate. 

“The early results suggest that glyphosate can have serious impacts on human health. It is important that these worrying findings are followed up on, and any further warning signs taken into account when the EU license for glyphosate comes up for renewal,” added the Belgian deputy.

Further comment came from Greens/EFA group MEP Marco Affronte who told reporters, “It is essential that greater weight is placed on independent scientific studies than those commissioned by industry. Potential conflict of interest cast doubt on EU authorisation procedures.

“This is not only an issue of the health of our citizens and their environment, but also one of institutional credibility. If we want to ensure the public has faith in decision-making in Brussels, it needs to be made much more robust and transparent.”

The pilot study was on glyphosate based herbicides in rats, using the US Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable daily dietary exposure level of glyphosate. It focused on the newborn, infancy and adolescence phases of life. 

The results are said to reveal that glyphosate based herbicides were able to alter certain important biological parameters, mainly relating to sexual development, genotoxicity and the alteration of the intestinal microbiome.

The study involved several institutions and universities in Europe and the US and was funded by 30,000 members of the public in Italy, who are associates of the Ramazzini Institute cooperative.

The findings come after the recent establishment by the Parliament of a special committee on pesticides.

The committee has been set up in the wake of an attempt by some MEPs to ban glyphosate.

Sitting for nine months, it will examine the scientific evaluation of glyphosate, the world’s most commonly-used weed killer, which was eventually relicensed for five years by the EU in December after months of uncertainty.

The parliamentary committee will also consider wider issues around the authorisation of pesticides and how the EU applies scientific advice in weighing risk.


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