France bans 36 glyphosate-based products over health concerns

9 Dec 2019 | Rei Geyssens

France’s health and environment agency (Anses) banned 36 glyphosate-based products and refused licences for four new products on Monday over fears that the herbicide causes cancer, with the move effectively banning it from the French market.

Anses withdrew the marketing licenses after conducting its own internal research, with the ban coming just days ahead of EU kicking off the renewal process that licenses its use across the bloc.

“Without waiting for the end of the current [EU licensing] process, the Agency notified the withdrawal of the authorisations of 36 glyphosate-based products and the refusal to authorize four new products,” Anses said in a press release.

“The data provided by the industrialists does not make it possible to rule on their its genotoxicity,” the agency said, having run its own safety studies on the herbicide.

The banned products account for nearly 75% of all glyphosate volumes sold in France in 2018, the largest consumer in the EU with annual demand estimated at 8,000 mt.

The herbicide – first brought to market by US-based Monsanto – has come under heavy fire as lawsuits have mounted against Bayer, its current owner.

Plaintiffs allege glyphosate can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer.

Bayer rejects those allegations and is appealing all court cases in the US.

It was a key pledge of French President Macron during his run for office to ban all use of the herbicide, after public outcry over its potential health concerns.

Since then, the promise to ban glyphosate has been watered down to an 80% reduction by the end of next year, with the government looking at ways to help farmers switch to alternatives.

But the move has been met with resistance from French farmers who protested in Paris at the end of last month, opposing the ban of the herbicide.

Neighbouring Germany – which consumes around 5,000 mt of glyphosate annually – has made a similar pledge to ban all use by the end of 2023, a move that has also been met with resistance from farmers.