PerspectiveBridge: Pesticides and Society

Decision-making in a storm of discontent

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Science  01 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 958-960
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0567

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On 12 December 2017, the European Commission reapproved the use of glyphosate, the world's most widely used active ingredient in herbicides and possibly the most heavily debated plant protection product since DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), for another 5-year period (1). Less than a week later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft risk assessment for glyphosate, which concluded that human health risk levels associated with glyphosate exposure from food, drinking water, and residential sources are below the agency's levels of concern (2). Both in Europe and the United States, these decisions faced a storm of public discontent owing to concerns about the possible risks of chemical exposures and the role of large multinational companies. We argue that a broader societal assessment should be included in the decision-making process on pesticide registration.