Monsanto has expressed surprise at the decision taken by French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal to ban the herbicide Roundup from garden centres.

This follows the classification of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Glyphosate is a generic substance that is present in the composition of about 180 different weed killers sold to gardeners and farmers in France and other countries.

Monsanto points out that Glyphosate’s regulatory status is perfectly clear and as of today there is no new or recent scientific data that has given regulators pause to question its authorisation or sales conditions. Glyphosate was last renewed for sale within the EU in 2002.

A Monsanto spokesperson said that the company is confident in the quality of the products on-offer to gardeners and which have been specifically designed for a safe usage at home.

“When used according to the recommendations on the packaging, the product does not pose any specific risks to the user.

“Furthermore, Monsanto and Roundup have been actively promoting good practices for gardeners for more than 20 years. This is about using the right product at the right place at the right time. All of this information is widely circulated and brought to consumers’ attention, both at the point of sale and on specialised websites which propose appropriate solutions combining various alternatives.”

The renewal of the authorisation for glyphosate the active substance is conducted every 10 years. The current renewal process was led by Germany, which reaffirmed the safety of the chemical earlier this year in its report to the European Union. The German report is now subject to review by the European Food Safety Authority before a final decision by the European Commission.