Glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used herbicide – tons of which is sold in Portugal – is at the centre of an international wrangle after a recent study conducted by an agency linked to the World Health Organisation claims it is a “probable carcinogen”.
While many have refuted the claim, 10 Portuguese environmental organisations have challenged the European Union to show “courage” and ban the use of the herbicide.
“The situation in Portugal is particularly serious,” Plataforma Transgénicos Fora said in a press release, stressing that around 1400 tonnes of glyphosate is used in Portugal every year.
According to the national food and veterinary board DGAV, glyphosate is also used in 84 pesticides sold in Portugal.
The study was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France.
Since its publication, a number of industry heavyweights have tried to refute its claims with agricultural giant Monsanto actually demanding the report be pulled altogether.
Philip Miller, vice-president of global regulatory affairs for Monsanto, said the company “questions the quality of the assessment” – adding that “WHO has something to explain”.
Monsanto was actually responsible for the invention of glyphosate in 1970 and has since become the largest producer of glyphosate herbicides in the US.
As Wikipedia points out, “Monsanto has been involved in a number of class action suits where fines and damages have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, usually over health issues related to its products”.