Press release: 25 January 2024
NGOs initiate legal challenge against EU glyphosate re-approval
A consortium of six NGOs - PAN Europe, ClientEarth (EU), Générations Futures (France), GLOBAL 2000 (Austria), PAN Germany, and PAN Netherlands - has officially launched a legal challenge against the European Commission’s recent decision to re-approve glyphosate. After conducting a detailed examination of the glyphosate re-approval process and identifying several critical shortcomings, the NGOs submitted a Request for Internal review to the Commission, marking the first step in this legal battle.
The European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have failed to uphold their obligation to protect European citizens and the environment by not adhering to the EU law and case law on Pesticide Regulation and the precautionary principle.
The European Commission re-approved glyphosate for 10 years despite an impressive body of scientific evidence indicating its toxicity to human health and the environment.
Angeliki Lyssimachou, Head of Science and Policy at PAN Europe said: "We are dismayed by the incredible number of breaches in EU law. Scientific evidence on the important toxicity of glyphosate on health and the environment was not correctly communicated to the Commission by EFSA and ECHA. Farmers are the first victims of this. The Commission reapproved glyphosate despite the available information on its toxicity and the numerous data gaps. This should have led to a ban."
Pauline Cervan, Toxicologist at Générations Futures said: “The authorities have systematically rejected all data from the independent scientific literature, basing their assessment solely on data supplied by manufacturers. In addition, it appears that some key studies are still missing for different areas of the assessment, which should have led the Commission not to accept the dossier on the grounds of incompleteness”.
Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, biochemist at GLOBAL 2000, adds: "Given the evidence uncovered in the US court cases of Monsanto's efforts to influence previous EU approval procedures, we would have expected the authorities to scrutinise the glyphosate manufacturers' studies particularly closely this time. However, the authorities repeated the conclusions of previous approval procedures in a copy-and-paste manner - even when the arguments were based on outdated manufacturer studies that are now generally considered unacceptable.”
Margriet Mantingh, chair of PAN Netherlands said: “EFSA's risk assessment of glyphosate neglects the possible effects on the development of Parkinson's disease and autism spectrum disorders in children, while research by independent scientists points to a possible effect. We are very concerned that the Commission is not adequately protecting its citizens. Therefore we demand the Commission to apply the precautionary principle and withdraw the approval of glyphosate.”
Peter Clausing, Toxicologist at PAN Germany said: “Disregarding their own guidelines and requirements, the EU authorities have distorted the evidence for the carcinogenic effects of glyphosate in order to come to the false conclusion that the active substance is not carcinogenic.”
ClientEarth Senior lawyer Juliette Delarue said: “Glyphosate is a dangerous substance – by re-approving it, the Commission has made a manifest error in the face of the law and of independent and reliable science. Beyond that, the EU treaties require the Commission to act with caution to prevent harm to humans and nature. Our challenge asks the Commission to finally pay heed to the science and withdraw its approval.”
Notes to editors:
In Fall 2023, the European Commission proposed to reapprove glyphosate for 10 years. After 2 rounds of votes among Member States the Commission failed to obtain a qualified majority. In the second vote, only Member States representing 42% of the EU population supported this proposal, but the Commission still decided to move forward and impose the reapproval of glyphosate.
Thanks to a 2021 reform of access to justice laws, NGOs and individuals now have the ability to challenge most EU decisions that break environmental law in EU Court. The NGOs sent to the Commission a 'Request for Internal Review", in which they asked the Commission to withdraw the regulation on the reapproval of glyphosate. The Commission now has 22 weeks to reply. If the NGOs consider that the Commission’s reply still does not solve the breaches of law, they can challenge the reply before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.