Glyphosate decision in deadlock

The European Commission failed to garner enough support from EU governments for renewing glyphosate‘s licence today and postponed a vote on the matter.

12 countries reportedly said that they would oppose or abstain in a vote on the controversial weedkiller from agro-chemical company Monsanto, meaning the Commission would not have met the qualified majority threshold required to push through its proposal if a vote had taken place.

The Commission was also forced to climb down from its initial suggestion to renew glyphosate for 10 years after it proved unpopular with national capitals, and now periods of three, five, or seven years are being discussed.

The much-anticipated vote – in the Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed – will now take place in November – shortly before glyphosate’s current licence expires on 15 December.

Yesterday in the European Parliament, MEPs called for a full ban on glyphosate-based herbicides by December 2022 and for immediate restrictions on the use of the substance.

Natacha Cingotti, a campaigner at NGO Health and Environment Alliance, said:

“Member States should not be lured by the Commission’s offer to reduce the renewal period, which leaves the door fully open for a reauthorisation of glyphosate beyond 2022 and turns a deaf ear to the European Parliament’s demand for a full ban without any extension.”

Glyphosate was assessed as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization in March 2015. Just 8 months later, two of the EU’s own agencies – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – threw the World Health Organization’s assessment into doubt by publishing research that reached the opposite conclusion, that glyphosate in food products is not harmful to human health.

Further controversy stems from accusations that Monsanto held back crucial data on the herbicide’s health impacts.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said:

 “Today the Commission failed for the fifth time in a row to get sufficient support from European governments to renew glyphosate’s licence. The tables are turning and unless the Commission backs a ban, it will continue to fail.”