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  • This Thursday, the Toxic Secrets collective, which brings together NGOs but also 119 parliamentarians, sent a letter to EFSA, the European body responsible for approving pesticides, asking it to review its procedures.

  • The campaign is based on a study published this fall by biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini, which detected the presence of heavy metals and hydrocarbons in the composition of herbicides sold in France, Germany and Poland.

  • For Toxic Secrets, these results show "the holes in the racket" in pesticide registration processes "which focus on the active substances and less on the other compounds that go into product formulas"

A "scientific fraud" ... The "Toxic Secrets" coalition does not mince its words when presenting the letter it was preparing to send this Thursday to Efsa (European Food Safety Authority), the European body responsible, among other things, for the assessment of the health risks of pesticides before they are placed on the market.

The letter, written by fourteen NGOs joined by 119 European deputies and French parliamentarians, denounces the flaws of EFSA in the assessment it makes of pesticides and asks it to urgently review its procedures.

Heavy metals and hydrocarbons

The campaign is based on a study by biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini *, from the University of Caen, published in October in the American scientific journal

Food and Chemical Toxicology


The researcher analyzed fourteen glyphosate-free herbicides recently marketed for individuals and available in France, Germany and Poland.

The study made it possible to frequently detect the presence of heavy metals (arsenic, copper, lead, nickel, etc.) as well as, for twelve herbicides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzo [a] pyrene, a carcinogen recognized by the ICRC ( International Agency for Research on Cancer).

“This in large doses, specifies Gilles-Eric Seralini.

Enough to give, in the event of long-term exposure, tumors, immune diseases, reproductive diseases… ”And these substances are not declared, points out Secrets Toxiques.

"Nor on the commercial labels of the cans which must however inform consumers of the toxic products used, begins Maître Guillaume Tumerelle, lawyer who supports Secrets Toxic in his efforts.

Nor in the marketing authorizations, document in which manufacturers must include all the components entering into their formulas.


A cocktail effect not taken into account?

That's the whole problem then for this coalition.

It criticizes Efsa for evaluating the toxicity of the substance declared active by the manufacturer - the glyphosate molecule, for example for Round-up type herbicides - without looking at the toxicity of the other ingredients used and which can represent up to 70% of the components used in a formula.

Without looking, above all, at the cocktail effect that these components can have all together.

"We thus realize that the products advertised as substitutes for glyphosate-based pesticides [prohibited for sale to individuals in France since January 1, 2019] are in reality just as dangerous, or even more", criticizes Dominique Masset, co -President of Glyphosate France Campaign, one of the NGOs involved in Secrets Toxiques.

The campaign began on December 1, with the filing of a complaint against X, at the health center of the Paris administrative court, for labeling fraud, endangering the life of others and damage to the environment, to try to remove the products analyzed by Gilles-Eric Seralini.

The procedure is still ongoing.

This Thursday's letter marks a second step by directly targeting EFSA.

"The European regulations are very clear," says Guillaume Tumerelle.

It specifies that the cumulative effects of the products - the cocktail effects - must be taken into account when the products are approved.

The Court of Justice of the European Union reiterated this very clearly in a decision of 1 October 2019. "

EFSA and ANSES respond

The EFSA was quick to react by press release.

The organization recalls that "European legislation on pesticides stipulates that EFSA's mission is to carry out a scientific evaluation only on the active substances of these products and not on their complete formulas".

Nevertheless, pesticide recipes remain evaluated on their safety before they can be used in the European Union, continues Efsa, specifying that this evaluation "is done at a later stage", by the authorities of the Member States themselves.

In France, it is ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety).

"We are taking note of this letter and we are going to take a detailed look at the herbicides analyzed by Gilles-Eric Seralini and the results of his study,"

the ANSES communication service


20 Minutes


In any case, we strictly comply with European regulations when analyzing the files submitted by manufacturers.

This includes in particular the assessment of the risks associated with the use of these products, for those who apply the products, people nearby, the environment, etc. ”And ANSES ensures that it does not hesitate to withdraw products from the market if necessary. .

As in 2016, when it withdrew 132 authorizations for products combining the active substance of glyphosate with the co-formulant POE Tallowamine, "unacceptable risks, in particular for human health, cannot be excluded", she justified.

Holes in the racket?

However, for Toxic Secrets, the heavy metals and hydrocarbons found in herbicides sold in Europe “tend to show that there are huge holes in the racket,” slips François Veillerette, spokesperson for Générations Futures.

From one active substance, there can be hundreds of commercial products and the national agencies certainly do not have the means to carry out in-depth analyzes for each of them.


François Veillerette then denounces, at a minimum, “a problem of transparency”.

“Herbicides without glyphosate often use acetic acid as an active substance,” he recalls.

Clearly vinegar.

An individual who buys such a product does not expect to find lead, arsenic, benzo [a] pyrene in it.

If the national agencies considered the cocktail not to be harmful, why are these ingredients not listed on the product labels?


Toxic Secrets expects a response from EFSA to his mail within two months.

"In which case, we imagine new formal notices or even legal proceedings", assures Guillaume Tumerelle.

There is an urgent need to act on this public health issue, thunder MEPs Michèle Rivasi and Eric Andrieu.

The second recalls that in 2018, “a commission of inquiry of the European Parliament - known as the Pest commission - had already pointed out all the limits of the pesticide approval procedure in the EU.

Lack of transparency, independence, resources.

Three years later, nothing has changed.



Pesticides: Compensating farmers, a solution to limit their use?


Organic farming: Europe wants to authorize pesticides and reduce quality controls in the sector

* Gilles-Eric Seralini is known for his radical positions against GMOs and pesticides

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