Challenging Health Canada’s renewal of glyphosate products

Program area – Healthy communities Status: In progress
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Glyphosate is the most heavily used pesticide in the world. It’s used in agriculture, forestry, industrial weed control, lawn, garden, and aquatic environments.

In Canada, glyphosate use has increased from 35 million kilograms to more than 50 million kilograms in 2020. Despite its widespread use, glyphosate poses a danger to human health and the environment. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Since the re-evaluation of glyphosate in 2017, scientific evidence has evolved. There are many emerging potential risks associated with glyphosate, including impacts on the microbiome, neurodegenerative and reproductive toxicity, adverse impacts to monarch butterflies, carcinogenicity, and ecological harm to freshwater ecosystems that Health Canada had not previously considered.

That’s why when we heard that many glyphosate products were up for renewal at the end of 2022 and would likely get the PMRA’s rubber-stamp approval, we knew we had to act. Ecojustice and its clients asked the PMRA to review up-to-date science and the PMRA did not commit to doing so.

Ecojustice, on behalf of David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence Canada, Friends of the Earth Canada and Safe Food Matters, have filed a judicial review challenging Health Canada’s failure to conduct a rigorous scientific assessment of glyphosate before renewing the approval for a product containing it.

This is not the first time that Health Canada’s PMRA has granted renewals for harmful pesticides without requiring new information on their impacts on human health and ecosystems. The PMRA is decades behind in assessing and evaluating pest control products. The PMRA effectively automatically renews pest control products instead of ensuring that any renewal is supported by sound science.

Ecojustice has a long history of challenging Health Canada’s PMRA’s review and registration process and calling for risky pesticides, like glyphosate, to be banned because of the risks they pose to human health and the environment.

A win in this case would set a precedent that could address chronic delays in the PMRA’s risk assessment processes.

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