Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

European Union delays decision on herbicide glyphosate

Image Shutterstock Image Shutterstock
Ellis Copeland | 25 October, 2017, 19:17

The European Parliament has called for glyphosate to be banned by 2022 amid fears the weed killer causes cancer. The French decision blocked Monsanto's licensing process, as a qualified majority of European Union member states is required to renew the weed killer's 10-year license. Instead, MEPs say the European Union should draw up plans to phase out the substance, starting with a complete ban on household use and a ban in use for farming when biological alternatives (i.e. integrated pest management systems) work well for weed control.

The first round of an European Union vote to renew glyphosate for a 10 year period has failed to attract sufficient support, with the industry now looking at a possible shorter licence period.

Glyphosate is a herbicide used to kill broadleaf plants and grasses since 1974.

In its statement, the European Parliament also noted that the recent scandal over claims that USA agricultural giant Monsanto influenced research into its herbicide's safety has raised serious concerns.

The European Commission had recommended a gradual phase off of the substance within ten years.

During several informal voting rounds during the meeting, countries initially discarded a Commission proposal to renew glyphosate - the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup pesticide - for 10 years.

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Campaign group Greenpeace has questioned the methodology of studies concluding glyphosate is safe and says there are other farming methods, including crop rotation, to reduce weeds.

Shortly after the vote, the commission announced it would propose a license period of five to seven years.

The current approval of glyphosate expires on December 15, 2017.

The vote by member states on a proposal for the renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 10 years has been delayed yet again today.

The EU risk assessment process on glypyhosate has been mired in controversy, as the United Nations cancer agency differed to the EU food safety authority and the ECHA in its conclusions regarding the safety of the herbicide.

A 2016 review carried out by other WHO experts and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet".

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