Health Canada’s experts conclude that there is no reason to doubt the scientific evidence they have used so far to approve the use of glyphosate in herbicides.
The regulatory Agency the pest management of the federal ministry has, therefore, maintained, Friday, its decision on the 2017, according to which the herbicides and the pesticides containing glyphosate are safe – if they are used and appropriately labelled.
The federal agency is required to reassess the herbicides every 15 years. After such a revaluation in 2017, it had approved the use of glyphosate in Canada, with additional requirements relating to labelling. The literature review has focused on the more than 1,300 studies and concluded that the glyphosate products do not pose any risk to humans or the environment as long as they are properly used and labeled.
Glyphosate is one of the herbicides most used in the world. It is present in more than 130 products sold in Canada and is widely used by farmers to prevent weeds from entering their cultures.
After having published in 2017 his “final re-evaluation decision”, Health Canada had received eight notices of opposition. These critics accused Monsanto, the manufacturer of the “Roundup”, a glyphosate herbicide, to have applied for scientific studies in support of their product without revealing that the company had participated in these studies.
Their allegations were based on documents filed in a proceeding instituted in the United States. A former gardener, had obtained a settlement of several million dollars after a jury concluded that his cancer was linked to glyphosate.
Environmental groups, including Ecojustice, Environmental Defence and the canadian Association of physicians for the environment, asked the minister of Health, Ginette Petipas Taylor, to order an independent investigation into Health Canada’s decision.
Instead, Health Canada commissioned 20 scientists who were not involved in the re-evaluation to examine the question. Connie Moase, director of the division of health effects of the regulatory Agency the pest management, has assured Friday that these scientists “have spared no effort”.
“The objections raised do not raise doubt or concern about the scientific basis of the decision of re-evaluation of glyphosate in 2017,” said Mrs. Moase.
It was clarified that the documents, known under the name of Monsanto Papers, mainly consisted of evaluations of studies and not on real studies, whereas the Health Canada approval was based on the original results of the studies themselves.
According to Ms. Moase no organization like it in the world has concluded that glyphosate causes cancer at current exposure levels.
Trish Jordan, public affairs director and sector division of cultural sciences of Bayer Canada, has mentioned that the company had supported the additional verification launched by Health Canada and that she was satisfied with the result.
Bayer Ag, owner of Monsanto, denied having influenced in an inappropriate manner on the results of hundreds of studies that would prove, according to him, that his product is safe.
“We have a continued commitment to sound science, transparency and the production of valuable tools that will help farmers continue to feed a sustainable population growth,” said Ms. Jordan.
Elaine MacDonald, head of healthy communities for Ecojustice, called this decision a disappointment.
“How can we trust the science if we can not be sure that she is independent?”, she commented on.
Muhannad Malas, the manager of the program of fight against the toxic substances in Environmental Defence, said that there was no reason to trust Health Canada if the ministry asks its own scientists to evaluate the work of their peers.
“We maintain that the public may not have confidence in the validity of the government’s decision to renew the approval of glyphosate, unless the minister of Health-address to a group of independent experts not affiliated with Health Canada or to the industry,” he insisted.
Thierry Bélair, press attaché to the minister Ginette Petipas Taylor, mentioned that the government was well aware of the concerns of Canadians relating to pesticides and that this review has been carried out with the utmost care.
Tests carried out recently by Environmental Defence has revealed traces of glyphosate in a number of popular food products, including donuts, biscuits and cereals. These quantities, however, were well below thresholds considered to be at risk by Health Canada for human consumption.