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Mexico to phase out weed killer linked to cancer by 2024

The world’s most popular weed killer, glyphosate, will be phased out of use by 2024 in Mexico, the government has announced. This is two years later than the EU has agreed to a ban.

Various countries including Germany have announced their intention not to ban glyphosate until 2023, even if the EU extends its licence.

The herbicide has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a “probable human carcinogen”, meaning it is almost certainly linked to causing cancer. Glyphosate manufacturer Bayer and various regulators have rejected this classification.

Chris Portier, a former director of the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry who worked on the IARC’s review of glyphosate, said “it is absolutely clear that glyphosate can cause cancers in experimental animals.”

“And the human evidence for an association between glyphosate and cancer is also there, predominantly for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” – a group of often fatal blood cancers.

In Mexico, the herbicide will be gradually phased out by the time the current administration ends in late 2024, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced.

The decision follows a spat between environment and agriculture ministers over the product. An audio recording of Mexico’s environment minister Victor Manuel Toledo criticising the government for internal contradictions during a private meeting was leaked. Toledo has been a strong critic of the herbicide.

“We couldn’t get rid of it in one fell swoop, it can’t be done, it would hit food output,” the president told reporters. “We would have to import products and foods that are grown with these agrochemicals.”

 

A joint investigation by Greenpeace and Public Eye found the world’s five biggest pesticide manufacturers are making more than a third of their income from leading products selling chemicals that pose serious hazards to human health and the environment. Over two thirds of these sales were made in low and middle-income countries like Brazil and India.

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