The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has confirmed that a review of the status of the commonly-used herbicide glyphosate is under way at EU level.

An active substance in the well-known Monsanto product Roundup, the glyphosate review comes in the wake of a recent classification of the herbicide chemical by the UN as ‘probably carsonagenic’.

Minister Coveney has said decisions on the authorisation of an active substance, such as glyphosate, are made at EU level following advice from the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA. Member States have competence to authorise products containing EU-approved active substances.

Glyphosate was previously reviewed in 2002, as part of the EU plant protection product review programme which has allowed its continued use.

However, the Minister said a scheduled re-review is currently underway, with Germany acting as the rapporteur and Slovakia acting as a co-rapporteur.

He said the process of peer reviewing the German-Slovakian evaluation is coming to a conclusion and it is expected that this process will be completed within the next few months.

As part of the process the European Food Safety Authority is co-ordinating a review by all Member States of its evaluation.

The Minister also said that the German evaluators will also perform a thorough review of the classification issued by the World Health Organization agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, once its full report, which is expected in August, becomes available.

He added that all uses of products containing glyphosate approved in Ireland are in line with approved uses in all other EU states. Uses are only granted if the appropriate risk assessment indicates that safe use is possible under normal conditions.

To date, no EU or, indeed, OECD countries have taken a negative regulatory position on glyphosate and currently all EU Member States have product authorisations in place.

The Minister said in any decision human health comes first and Ireland and other European countries will act on the back of the results coming from that review.