PARIS: French health and environment agency ANSES said on Monday it was banning glyphosate-based weedkillers that represent most of the volume of such products sold in France, ruling there was insufficient data to exclude health risks.
The agency was withdrawing the marketing license for 36 products and these would no longer be authorized for use after the end of next year, it said in a statement.
The products accounted for nearly three-quarters of the volume of glyphosate products sold in France in 2018, it said.
Applications to launch four new glyphosate-based products had also been rejected, ANSES added.
Glyphosate, first developed by Bayer's Monsanto unit under the brand Roundup, has been a focus of controversy since a World Health Organization agency concluded in 2015 that it probably causes cancer.
It is now off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups.
In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to ban glyphosate in France within three years, rejecting a European Union decision to extend its use for five years.
Austria, which is attempting to be the first European country to ban all uses of the weedkiller, said on Monday a law on the ban cannot go into force on Jan. 1 as planned because the European Commission was not properly notified.
Bayer's home country of Germany will ban the substance from the end of 2023.
ANSES said it had been reviewing the 69 glyphosate products available in France as well as 11 applications to market new products.
"ANSES has decided that 36 of these products will be withdrawn from the market and will no longer be allowed for use from the end of 2020, due to a lack or absence of scientific data which would allow all genotoxical risk to be ruled out," the agency said.
It did not detail which products were covered by the withdrawal decision.
ANSES said it would complete its review of glyphosate products by the end of next year, and that only products that met EU criteria and which did not have adequate alternatives would be allowed to be sold in France.
Bayer said it would comply with ANSES' decision but was "fully behind our glyphosate-based products".
The group planned to provide additional data to ANSES as a way of "working towards renewing the marketing authorizations for our glyphosate-based products in France", a spokesman added in an emailed statement.
Bayer faces potentially heavy litigation costs from U.S. lawsuits in which plaintiffs claim Roundup causes cancer, which Bayer disputes.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide, additional reporting by Patricia Weiss in Frankfurt; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)