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Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup herbicide, should not be classified as a substance causing cancer, the European Chemical Agency concluded on Wednesday, potentially paving the way for its license renewal in the EU.
A transatlantic row over possible risks to human health has prompted investigations by congressional committees in the United States, and in Europe has forced a delay to a re-licensing decision for Monsanto's big-selling Roundup weed killer.
Weighing in on the controversy, the EU body which regulates chemicals and biocides said it had considered extensive scientific data.
"This conclusion was based both on the human evidence and the weight of the evidence of all the animal studies reviewed," Tim Bowmer, chairman of ECHA's Committee for Risk Assessment, said in an online briefing.
The European Commission said it expected to restart talks with member states on re-approving the use of glyphosate in herbicides after receiving the formal opinion from ECHA, which is expected by August.
Pending the results of the study, the EU granted an 18-month extension last July of its approval for the weed killer after a proposal for full license renewal met opposition from member states and campaign groups.
Accusing EU nations of hiding behind Brussels and failing to take an open stance on controversial issues such as glyphosate and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Commission also proposed changes to its decision-making process.
"It's up to the Commission now," said Jack de Bruijn, ECHA's Director of Risk Management. "We are confident that indeed we have no issue at all in terms of the transparency and independence of this opinion."