Frequently asked questions regarding the different assessments of the carcinogenic effect of glyphosate by BfR and IARC

BfR FAQ, 11 December 2015

Following the Pesticides Peer Review Experts' Meeting at EFSA in February 2015 as part of the procedure for the renewed evaluation of the plant protection product glyphosate, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the active substance as "probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)".

Due to the assessment approach used, the assessment of IARC is not in line with the assessments of BfR, EFSA and the competent national, European and other international institutions including the WHO/FAO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). WHO itself has set up an “ad hoc expert task force" to clarify the reasons for the different assessments of the data by its own committees, IARC on the one side and JMPR on the other. This is known as a scientific divergence procedure within WHO, which has not yet been completed.

Following a renewed review of its assessment of the health risk, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) came to the conclusion that, based on current knowledge, no carcinogenic risk to humans can be concluded if glyphosate is used in the proper manner and for the intended purpose. The experts from the authorities of the 28 EU member states and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also reviewed all documents. The outcome of the final expert discussion formed the basis for the EFSA Conclusion, which is in agreement with the assessment of BfR.

BfR has prepared questions and answers on the different assessments of the carcinogenic effect of glyphosate by BfR and IARC.

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