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December 11, 2019

France Bans Roundup for Glyphosate Cancer Risk

Officials Plan to Completely Remove Roundup from French Market by 2021


French health regulators announced they have banned 36 glyphosate-based products from the French market, including the highly controversial herbicide Roundup. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) released the news December 9 after nearly two years of deliberation following a meeting of the European Union.

According to ANSES’s announcement, this ban will remove most forms of Roundup and glyphosate products from the market. Overall, this ban will affect 75% of the country’s volume of glyphosate products.

ANSES reported the listed products were banned for having lacking or missing data that ruled out the product’s genotoxicity. Assessments for glyphosate’s genotoxicity, or the ability for a chemical agent in a product to cause cellular mutations leading to cancer, were reexamined and strengthened in 2017 after officials realized the need for additional data on the environmental and health risks of glyphosate. Out of the 69 glyphosate-based products on the French market, 36 of those products will be withdrawn and forbidden to be used by late 2020.

In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, meaning it can likely cause individuals’ cancers. Reportedly, glyphosate has caused cancers including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and multiple myeloma in individuals regularly exposed to glyphosate long term.

Spurring concern across the world, countries have since started placing bans on Roundup and similar glyphosate-based products. In the European Union, Germany intends to prohibit glyphosate use after 2023, and Austria plans to carry out a similar ban, as well.

ANSES’s ban comes following the European Union’s vote in 2017 on whether to extend the license of glyphosate use throughout the EU. This vote was met with heavy opposition over concerns of Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides increasing users’ risks of cancer.

ANSES says they are still in the process of assessing available alternatives for glyphosate containing products. This process, which includes manufacturers to submit applications for re-authorization of their glyphosate-based products, will reportedly be completed by the end of 2020.

Roundup Lawsuits

Currently Bayer’s subsidiary Monsanto Company faces over 43,000 lawsuits in the US over Roundup weed killer. Individuals claim that after being regularly exposed to Roundup for years, the glyphosate in Roundup caused them to develop cancer, most notably Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These claims, brought forward by farmers, groundskeepers, and even the average gardener allege that Monsanto failed to warn the public about the dangers of glyphosate, and even knew for years about the cancer risk.

Bayer’s Monsanto maintains that glyphosate is safe for use, but juries ruled the opposite in the first three Roundup cases to go to trial in the Roundup Weed Killer Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). In these trials, juries awarded massive damages to individuals claiming they were diagnosed with cancer after regular exposure to glyphosate in Roundup. While Bayer’s Monsanto is currently engaged in mediation to see if a Roundup settlement can be reached, nothing conclusive has come about over the last few months. 

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