After thorough scientific review, Health Canada has announced its decision from the 2017 re-evaluation of glyphosate, which renewed the herbicide’s registration, will remain in place. The decision notes glyphosate is not genotoxic and is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk. This comes after eight notices of objection and concerns raised by the public about the validity of some of the science around glyphosate, in what’s being referred to as the Monsanto Papers, were vetted.
According to Health Canada, the objections raised by the eight groups did not “create doubt or concern regarding the scientific basis for the re-evaluation” decision two years ago, meaning the federal department’s final decision will stand. The noted concerns also couldn’t be supported when considering the entire body of relevant data.
“No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed,” Health Canada states.
In order to be transparent, unbiased, and to make sure “scientists left no stone unturned in conducting this review,” Health Canada selected a group of 20 of its own scientists who were not involved in the 2017 re-evaluation to evaluate the notices of objection.
In regards to the environmental impact, Melanie Whiteside, section head in the environmental assessment directorate says three major concerns came into play for the objections. Those were: glyphosate levels in water, potential impact on milkweed and monarch butterflies, and the impact of soil microbes and soil chemistry.
“Several monitoring studies in Canada and the U.S. representing close to 1,000 water samples were used during the glyphosate re-evaluation to characterize its presents in water,” Whiteside says. “These show more that despite more than two decades of use, concentrations of glyphosate are relatively low in surface water and do not result in risks of concern.”
As for the milkweed and monarch butterflies, she says there are buffer zones in place and it protects monarch habitat, which includes milkweed, by 95 per cent. In regards to soil microbes, Whiteside says glyphosate has a low impact on overall soil functions, soil chemistry, and soil health — even though specific soil microbe strains can be negatively affected by glyphosate. In all, she says the Pest Management Regulatory Agency has determined no additional changes are needed pertaining to the protection of the environment.
The government department will issue its response to each notice of objection in the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s Public Registry on January 14, 2019.
As it’s part of its regulations, Health Canada will re-evaluate glyphosate’s registration again in 2032.