by Claire Robinson
GMWatch.org
July 4, 2014

Pesticide regulators are refusing to release to the public the key industry studies on glyphosate that underpin regulatory authorizations and safety limits set for the herbicide, writes Claire Robinson.

The glyphosate toxicity studies you’re not allowed to see

On opposite sides of the globe, pesticide regulators are refusing to release to the public the key industry studies on glyphosate that underpin regulatory authorizations and safety limits set for the herbicide.

Earlier this year a group of Chinese food safety volunteers submitted a request to China’s Ministry of Agriculture to disclose the study that justified issuing the safety certificate for the import into China of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. The Ministry replied that Roundup was registered in China in 1988 based on a toxicology test report issued by a testing company called Younger Laboratories in St Louis, Missouri. The test was an acute exposure toxicity test (such tests last a maximum of a few days), with Roundup being given to rats by mouth and applied to the skin of rabbits. It claimed to find no effect on the eyes or skin, and no allergy.

The volunteers asked the Ministry to release the study, and the Ministry in turn asked Monsanto. Monsanto replied that the study constituted its own commercial secret, adding that the company had never disclosed the study anywhere in the world and did not agree to disclose it now. The volunteers are appealing against the decision.

It is hard to credit that China would approve a herbicide as safe to use and consume as residues in food over the long term on the basis of toxicity tests lasting just a few days.

Meanwhile in Europe, Tony Tweedale, a Brussels-based advisor to NGOs on toxicity and risk assessment issues, asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to disclose the two key chronic toxicity studies on glyphosate that the German regulatory agencies relied upon to set the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of the chemical. Germany is the “rapporteur” member state for glyphosate’s renewed market approval in Europe. Based on these studies, Germany had recommended revising the ADI upwards from 0.3 mg to 0.5 mg per kg of bodyweight per day.

That means regulators are allowing more exposure for you and me.

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