PARIS, France, Tuesday June 16, 2015 – French Environment and Energy Minister Segolene Royal has stopped over-the-counter sales of the popular weed killer Roundup, which the UN has warned may be carcinogenic.
The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was in March classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO).
That prompted calls from some public officials and consumers for a ban on the pesticide.
Roundup, which is widely used in the Caribbean and around the world by backyard gardeners as well as farmers, is the flagship product of American biotechnology giant Monsanto.
“France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides,” Royal told France 3 television on Sunday.
“I have asked garden centres to stop putting Monsanto’s Roundup on sale,” she added.
The minister did not specify how she would enforce any move to curb over-the-counter sales of the herbicide.
UN cancer agency (IARC) says Roundup, Malathion and Diazinon3 pesticides were “probably” carcinogenic. http://t.co/Evo2fXiSWb
— GreenWomanStore (@GreenWomanStore) March 25, 2015
Royal’s announcement came after French consumer association CLCV asked French and European officials to stop selling glyphosate-based products to amateur gardeners.
Glyphosate was introduced in the 1970s under the brand name Roundup, but is now manufactured generically. According to the IARC, it is currently the most-produced weed killer in the world.
The IARC’s evaluation of glyphosate saw “limited evidence” of a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as seen in studies conducted among farm workers since 2001 in the United States, Canada and Sweden.
Monsanto strongly contested the IARC classification, saying “relevant, scientific data was excluded from review.”
Commenting on Royal’s announcement, Monsanto said it had no information relating to a change in the marketing authorisation for Roundup and that there was no new scientific data available to challenge it.
“Under the conditions recommended on the label, the product does not present any particular risk for the user,” the US agribusiness giant added.
France is already considering a move to restrict self-service sales of plant protection products for domestic gardeners as part of a wider move to crack down on pesticides seen as potentially harmful to humans. This would come into effect from 2018 when the products would only be available through a certified vendor.
A full ban on the use of pesticides by home gardeners in France is planned for 2022.