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assessments challenged by Future Generations

The Future Generations association took an interest in the methods used by the authorities to assess the gnotoxicity of glyphosate. Its new report, published this Tuesday, May 3, shows, once again, a series of worrying dysfunctions.

Do manufacturers and other distributors of glyphosate have concerns about the future of this controversial molecule? It is unlikely, according to Future Generations. As the marketing authorization for the product comes to an end next December, the association is once again taking up the subject, this time focusing on its genotoxicity. In other words, on its ability to permanently or reversibly compromise the physical integrity of the genome, thus stimulating the appearance of cancerous cells.

Already examined by four states in France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden, the evaluation report for the renewal of its authorization (RAR) has been sent for opinion to the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which should deliver their conclusions respectively in May or June, and this fall. But on what basis? It is there that the injured beast, underlines Future Generations, which regularly deplores that 99% of the university literature published over the last ten years on this herbicide are discarded from the RAR in favor of studies carried out by the producers themselves.

A largely biased choice

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) already mentioned that, overall, the mechanistic data provide strong evidence for gnotoxicity and oxidative stress recalls the association, while in 2021, Inserm noted that studies showing an absence of gnotoxicity () seem less important () than those suggesting a positive effect . In order to support these arguments, the toxicologist Pauline Cervan, responsible for scientific and regulatory issues within Future Generations, has identified the studies in vitro on glyphosate cited in its RAR, in the report of the Circ and in that of Inserm: that is to say about twenty experiments, carried out on human cells, mammals or non-standard organisms such as fish.

The authorities therefore rely exclusively on studies from manufacturers

Pauline Cervan, Future Generations

First bias detected by the specialist: none of the studies revealing the positive effects of gnotoxicity, far more numerous than the others, were taken into account by the RAR, which judged their reliability unacceptable due to a lack of respect for the OECD guidelines or good laboratory practice. Ms approach for testing live : while the RAR retained a study duplicated ten times the same by manufacturers, therefore likely to distort the statistics, it dismissed at the same time the tests carried out on non-standard organisms, such as fish or plants, which are nevertheless considered to be strong potential by ANSES. By excluding this type of test from the evaluation, many studies available in the literature and showing genotoxic effects are in fact immediately rejected, believes Future Generations.

A preliminary classification

The authorities therefore rely exclusively on studies from manufacturers , concludes Pauline Cervan. However, these documents are not free from irregularities. On the contrary, the majority of them do not respect the OECD guidelines either. The number of analyzed cells is too low. studies live do not provide evidence of exposure of target cells located in the bone marrow. But these flaws are ignored says the toxicologist.

Another problem: the data live are only available for one type of test and cell, those from bone marrow. In vitro, the so-called counts test, for example, has however shown the effects of glyphosate on blood, hepatic or epithelial cells. But these gnotoxicity tests in vitro have almost no weight in the classification rules. None of these same tests, carried out this time livehas never been supplied by manufacturers. However, even ANSES, in 2016, argued the interest of having these experiments on the kidneys and the liver, in particular. A recommendation never followed by effects.

Pauline Cervan also notes that the classification criteria set out in the CLP regulations are too restrictive, and have been called into question by ANSES. To declare a substance genotoxic, this regulation only recognizes the mutagenic character in germ cells, in other words linked to reproduction, which excludes all other cells. Here we see the reflection of gap between academic science and regulatory scienceobserves Pauline Cervan. Glyphosate is in a way the emblematic example of this system, but these flaws in the evaluation are found in almost all substances and all files!

Article published on May 03, 2022


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