Health Canada completes review of glyphosate

Minor labelling changes are proposed

Health Canada is seeking public comments on its proposal to approve the ongoing registration of glyphosate, the widely used weed killer better known as Roundup.

The department says its evaluation of scientific information “found that products containing glyphosate do not present unacceptable risks to health or the environment when used according to the proposal label directions.”

The department says that after a five-year review of glyphosate that it’s recommending the existing label directions be amended to include direction not to use it near populated areas and to take steps to keep it out of watercourses. Farm and forestry workers should stay out of sprayed area for 12 hours.

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Generally, the proposed label instructions match advice already given to farmers by researchers about protecting the environment during the growing season.

The public has until June 12 to post comments on the Health Canada website www.hc-sc.gc.ca on the 350-page consultation document.

Last month, an advisory committee to the World Health Organization warned that glyphosate should be banned because it’s possibly carcinogenic to humans. Although the WHO hasn’t commented on the report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, its report has triggered a lively debate within the scientific community.

Health Canada said the IARC report did not take into account the actual exposure levels of humans to glyphosate. Pesticides are only registered for use in Canada “if the level of exposure to Canadians does not cause any harmful effects, including cancer.”

As well, the amount of glyphosate residues in food is believed to have no harmful effects over their lifetime, the department said.

Trish Jordan, spokeswoman for Monsanto, which makes the Roundup version, said in an interview the company is still studying the Health Canada re-evaluation decision and will comment when that review is complete. There didn’t appear to be “anything startling or restrictive in the new label directions that farmers are not already doing.

In its outline of the contents of the review, Health Canada says products containing glyphosate, “are unlikely to affect your health when used according to label directions.” Maximum residue limits of glyphosates on food are well established and have not proven to be a concern.

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