Roland Gilmore made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.
Dear Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) panel of cancer experts published its latest review of the cancer risks of glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) and concluded that the herbicide is probably causing cancer in humans.
In the light of this review, what measures are DEFRA taking to ban the use of glyphosate in the UK?
Glyphosate is known to be persistent. Run off from agricultural land to water ways and rivers where water is abstracted for drinking water is therefore of great public concern. The Drinking Water Inspectorate have confirmed that they have no powers to compel water companies to test for or to remove this carcinogen from drinking water. What measures are DEFRA taking to compel water companies to test for and remove traces of glyphosate from drinking water?
Other studies that have come out this week show that glyphosate and Monsanto's "Roundup" herbicide cause antibiotic resistance, genetic damage, endocrine disruption, and manganese deficiency. "Roundup" is one of the herbicides most commonly used in UK agriculture. In light of this UN review, what is DEFRA doing to limit human, ecological and environmental exposure to this product?
Dear Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
Please respond to my FoI request. This is a serious and urgent public health issue that you should have responded promptly to by yesterday; 27th April 2015.
Dear Mr Gilmore,
Thank you for your e-mail dated 26 March, sent to WhatDoTheyKnow.com
(WDTK). I have been asked to reply.
I’d like to explain at the outset how we have handled your e-mail. WDTK is
designed for requests for recorded information; we would refer you to
WDTK’s advice on how to use the website here:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/requ.... Your questions are not a
request for recorded information and therefore are to be answered as
You asked two related questions concerning the regulation of glyphosate -
“What measures are DEFRA taking to ban the use of glyphosate in the UK”
and “What is DEFRA doing to limit human, ecological and environmental
exposure to this product”.
Glyphosate is regulated as a pesticide. Under European Union (EU) rules,
pesticides are only approved for use if a scientific assessment has
identified no unacceptable risks to people or to the environment. A
pesticide which has an identified risk of causing harm to people will not
be approved. Approved pesticides will often carry statutory restrictions
on use to ensure that they can be used safely. All active substances are
subject to regular EU-wide review to make sure that they meet modern
safety standards. For this reason, the EU current approval of glyphosate
expires on 31 December 2015.
As part of the review of glyphosate, the regulatory authority responsible
for pesticides in Germany (BfR) has assessed the relevant data to see if
EU approval can continue from 2016. BfR’s assessment has been circulated
to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and to all EU Member States
for critical review. EFSA published the assessment on its website in March
2014 for a two month public consultation and has co-ordinated a peer
review, conducted in February 2015. This involved all Member States’
pesticides regulatory authorities, European Food Safety Authority, EFSA,
and its expert advisors.
EFSA is in the process of drawing up its findings in a formal conclusion,
which will be sent to the Commission for consideration. In light of this
conclusion, a decision will be taken either to renew the approval of
glyphosate or not. If approval is renewed, products which contain the
active substance will be separately re-assessed at Member State level, to
confirm that they too continue to meet the required standards of safety.
If approval is not renewed, glyphosate products will be withdrawn from the
In the work carried out so far under the EU review, glyphosate has been
judged not to show an ability to cause cancer in humans. In addition,
predicted exposures from authorised uses of glyphosate were found to be
within acceptable limits for all aspects of human health.
The database on which the IARC evaluation is based has not yet been
released. Therefore, a comprehensive consideration of the data and
arguments that led to the IARC conclusion is not possible at present. When
this information is available, we know that BfR will consider this under
the EU review process.
You also asked “What measures are DEFRA taking to compel water companies
to test for and remove traces of glyphosate from drinking water”. The
parameters for which the water companies need to test are set out in the
Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000. In the case of pesticides,
the decision on what is sampled is for each water company to decide
depending on their risk assessment.
For future general correspondence on these matters not involving requests
for specific recorded information held by Defra, please write to us
directly at Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR, or email us at
defra.[Defra request email]. This will allow us to respond more
rapidly than is the case for requests for recorded information. If you
submit a fresh request for recorded information, we will of course be
content to receive this through WDTK or directly to Defra (as above).
Customer Contact Unit
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