On Sunday Segolene Royal, the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, announced a ban of over-the-counter sales of Roundup, a weedkiller that contains the potentially carcinogenic substance glyphosate.
"France must be offensive on stopping pesticides," Royal said, according to Reuters.
The announcement comes after the World Health Organization in March classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans based on a study published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. France is planning to have a full ban on home gardeners' pesticide use by 2022.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's flagship product Roundup, which is used commonly by farmers and amateur gardeners.
The American biotechnology giant also produces seeds for crops that are engineered to be tolerant to glyphosate. These crops, called Roundup Ready, withstand the effects of the glyphosate herbicide, letting farmers use Roundup against broadleaf and cereal weeds without having to worry if the herbicide will negatively impact their crops.
Most farmers in the U.S. prefer genetically modified crops. In 2010, 93 percent of soybeans were glyphosate-resistant, as were 70 percent of corn and 78 percent of cotton, according to The Examiner.
WHO's classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen has started a domino-like effect as various countries have begun imposing restrictions on the use of Roundup.
In May alone, several countries have set restrictions on the use of glyphosate. Colombia declared a ban on the use of glyphosate herbicides for its coca plantations. It was decided by a 7 to 1 vote in the National Narcotics Council. The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense also came up with 24,000 signatures to push the Minister of Justice, chairman of the Narcotics Council, to impose the ban, according to The Ecologist.
Bermuda has restricted the import of glyphosate, as announced by Minister of Health Jeanne Atherden. Local farmers supported the announcement. In January, Denmark declared that glyphosate is a carcinogen and is expected to start looking for less toxic alternatives.
Last year, Sri Lanka declared an outright ban on glyphosate in light of the increasing occurrence of chronic kidney disease in the country. Sri Lankan scientists conducted a research showing the link between glyphosate and hard water, according to The Ecologist.
In May, Sri Lanka's new president said the country is also banning imports of the herbicide, Global Research reported.
In spite of these developments, Monsanto commented that it has no basis to change the marketing authorization for its product and that no new scientific data exists for them to do so.
"Under the conditions recommended on the label, the product does not present any particular risk for the user," Monsanto said in an email, according to Reuters.