EU Fails To Seize Opportunity To End Glyphosate

EU Fails To Seize Opportunity To End Glyphosate

EU Fails To Seize Opportunity To End Glyphosate

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was elected in May on a platform of pursuing deeper European Union integration alongside Germany, had wanted a shorter extension and a rapid phasing out of glyphosate, which is a mainstay of farming across the continent.

After a drawn-out process, the European Union backed the extension with a qualified majority and was able to beat a mid-December deadline when the current license expires. The Commission had initially proposed a 10-year extension on glyphosate use, which was rejected by the majority of countries who voted.

Following the decision, Commissioner for Health & Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said that the vote showed that "when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making".

Activists outside the European Commission in Brussels protesting against glyphosate | Emmanuel Dunand  AFP via Getty Images
Activists outside the European Commission in Brussels protesting against glyphosate | Emmanuel Dunand AFP via Getty Images

The UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland were among the countries that voted in favour of the chemical's reauthorisation, while Germany, France and Italy all voted against. Germany's Social Democrat Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, suggested that the decision was taken without the department's agreement - and in spite of her opposition.

"Anyone who is interested on developing trust between two parties can not behave that way", she said.

Sarah Mukherjee, of Britain's Crop Protection Association, said in October: "Every independent scientific study into glyphosate has found it is safe for consumers, including the EU's own European Chemicals Agency and European Food Safety Authority".

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"Glyphosate damages nature, probably causes cancer, and props up an industrial farming system that is degrading the land we need to feed ourselves".

While his position mirrors that of most British farmers, it contrasts with the concerns of environmentalists and other campaigners anxious by the chemical's alleged health risks.

However, in a letter sent to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker in March, a group of 30 MEPs questioned the validity of a study used by the EFSA in its assessment.

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Europe has been wrestling for the past two years over what to do with the chemical, a key ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling Roundup, whose licence was set to expire on Dec 15.

More than 280 similar lawsuits are now pending against Monsanto, according to the United States right to know campaign.

She also said that the Paper reveals how Monsanto "enlisted" three EPA officials to block a 2015 Glyphosate Review by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that "Monsanto said would likely agree with IARC".

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