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"The head of Europe's food safety watchdog has written to a group of nearly 100 senior scientists strongly rejecting their criticisms in a row about the safety of weed-killer ingredient glyphosate. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which advises European Union policymakers, issued an opinion in November that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer. That was at odds with a view from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), sparked outrage among environmental campaigners and divided the scientific community."
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Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop at Bonneuil-Sur-Marne near Paris, France, June 16, 2015. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which advises European Union policymakers, issued an opinion in November that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer. That was at odds with a view from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), sparked outrage among environmental campaigners and divided the scientific community. The IARC said in March that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans" while environmental groups have been calling for a ban on glyphosate. Ninety-six academics from around the world signed an open letter to European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, dated Nov. 27, urging EU authorities to ignore the European watchdogs's opinion. "We urge you and the European Commission to disregard the flawed EFSA finding on glyphosate in your formulation of glyphosate health and environmental policy for Europe," the letter said. It was written by Christopher Portier from the U.S.-based non-governmental organization the Environmental Defense Fund. Portier was also a specialist consulted during the IARC's research on glyphosate. The letter called for "a transparent, open and credible review of the scientific literature". EFSA's opinion could lead the 28-member European Union to renew approval for glyphosate, which was brought into use by Monsanto in the 1970s and is used in its top-selling product Roundup and many other herbicides around the world. In a reply to Portier dated Jan. 13, EFSA Executive Director Bernhard Url described glyphosate as "a keenly debated issue". "I strongly disagree with your contention that EFSA has not applied open and objective criteria to its assessment," Url wrote in the letter, seen by Reuters. Url said representatives of EFSA and the IARC would meet early this year to clarify differences of view between the two bodies and that the IARC evaluations "represent a first step". EU sources said the meeting would probably take place in Brussels in mid-February. EFSA, based in Parma, Italy, also noted its reply was to Portier and the scientists who signed the letter, not the IARC. "We should not compare this first screening assessment with the more comprehensive hazard assessment done by authorities such as EFSA, which are designed to support the regulatory process for pesticides in close cooperation with member states in the EU," Url said. No one at the European Commission or Monsanto was immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman for IARC told Reuters the Lyon-based agency did not wish to comment at this point.
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The research, published today, is the first time scientists have looked into how both species respond to field-realistic-levels of the neonicotinoid insecticide 'clothianidin' which was banned for use on flowering crops by the European Union in 2013. Scientists exposed honeybee and bumblebee workers to the pesticide for 11-12 days and then assessed the effect of the pesticide using a proboscis extension reflex conditioning assay, which tests how bees learn to associate an odour with a sugar reward. The scientists found that clothianidin impaired the honeybees' ability to learn the association, but surprisingly had no adverse effects on the bumblebees. The findings come after the European Food Safety Authority announced earlier this year it is to review the moratorium on use of three pesticides, including clothianidin, and will report back by the end of January 2017. Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex said: "Our research has important implications for global regulatory assessments which generally use honeybees as a model for all bees. "We show for the first time how this banned pesticide, while having a significant negative effect on learning in honeybees, had no adverse effects on learning in bumblebees. This is unexpected, since previous work suggested that this pesticide has a more pronounced impact on colonies of bumblebees than on those of honeybees. "During a time when the EU regulation of certain pesticides is being reviewed, we must ensure regulators learn from this research and do not readily extrapolate findings from one bee species to others." The research also looked at how the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae, which is a potential major threat to honey bee populations in Europe, affects the memory and learning of both species. The study found that infection by the parasite slightly impaired learning in honeybees, however the parasite did not infect bumblebees. More information: Chronic neonicotinoid pesticide exposure and parasite stress differentially affects learning in honeybees and bumblebees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rspb.2016.0246
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Three herbicides—amitrole, isoproturon, and triasulfuron—will be banned in the European Union, effective Sept. 30. An EU standing committee voted April 15 against renewing approval of the chemicals, citing potential groundwater contamination and risks to aquatic life. Two of the herbicides—amitrole and isoproturon—have been heavily scrutinized because of their ability to mimic hormones and disrupt the endocrine system. The European Food Safety Authority previously raised concerns about the endocrine-disrupting effects of the two herbicides, as well as data gaps related to their toxicity. EU officials had the option of banning the pesticides as endocrine disruptors. Under a 2009 EU pesticide regulation, endocrine-disrupting pesticides are not allowed on the EU market. But under that legislation, industry can apply for exemptions for “negligible exposure” and “serious danger to plant health.” Environmental groups are speculating that EU officials chose not to regulate the herbicides on the basis of their endocrine-disrupting effects because of these exemptions. Instead, EU officials say they based their decision on other concerns, such as risks to groundwater and aquatic plants, and gaps in toxicity data. Approval of the three herbicides in the EU was set to expire on June 30, but EU officials extended the date by three months in response to pushback from pesticide manufacturers. EU member states must withdraw their approvals of the three herbicides by Sept. 30, but they can allow a grace period of up to one additional year to phase out the chemicals. Amitrole and isoproturon, marketed by Nufarm and other companies, are widely used across the EU. Amitrole, a triazole herbicide used to control annual grasses and aquatic weeds, is not used on food crops because it causes cancer in laboratory animals. Isoproturon is a selective, systemic herbicide used to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in cereals in several EU countries. Triasulfuron, a sulfonylurea herbicide made by Syngenta, is used on cereal crops throughout the world. The environmental group Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe is welcoming the EU’s decision to ban the herbicides, but it notes that many other endocrine-disrupting pesticides still remain on the market. The group is urging EU officials to stop delaying their decision on those chemicals. “In the meantime, these pesticides stay on the market, and people and the environment remain unprotected against their harms,” the group warns.
Ammon A.,U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention |
Makela P.,European Food Safety Authority
International Journal of Food Microbiology
The European Community (EC) has been collecting for 15 years data on zoonoses and agents thereof that integrate the information from human cases and their occurrence in food and animals. The current data collection covers 11 zoonotic agents: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC), Yersinia spp., Brucella, Mycobacterium bovis, Trichinella and Echinoccoccus, as well as rabies and food-borne outbreaks. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is assigned the tasks of examining the data collected and publishing the Community Summary Report. This Report is prepared in close collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) responsible for the surveillance of the communicable diseases in humans, and with EFSA's Zoonoses Collaboration Centre (ZCC, in the Technical University of Denmark). Member States report the data on animals, feed, food and food-borne outbreaks to EFSA's web-based reporting system and the data on the human cases are reported to ECDC's web-application for The European Surveillance System (TESSy). The flow and analysis of data are described as well as an outline of the future plans to improve the comparability of the data. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source