The European Union’s food safety agency said Thursday that it “did not identify critical areas of concern” in the use of the controversial chemical herbicide glyphosate.
The ruling was welcomed by the companies seeking to extend the use of the chemical beyond December and harshly condemned by environmentalists who see it as a threat to nature and human health.
Over the past decade, glyphosate, used in products like the weedkiller Roundup, has been at the heart of heated debate about whether it causes cancer and its possible disruptive effect on the environment.
“For years the evidence of glyphosate’s toxicity for people and the environment has been stacking up, but the European food safety authority has once again decided to sweep it under the carpet,” said Eva Corral of the environmental group Greenpeace.
Researcher at Pesticide Action Network Europe, Angeliki Lysimachou, said the EFSA advice “is beyond any logic. Many new independent studies show negative impacts of glyphosate on health and environment.”
On Wednesday, the bloc took a step toward embracing the latest gene techniques to improve crop production. In a statement, it said the new technique will seek to change organisms in a much less intrusive way than the GMOs of old, allowing many to be sold without special labeling. It hopes will help safely counter global challenges like climate change and shortages.