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Glyphosate: Brussels wants to extend licence for ten years

by Editor (comments: 0)

The background

Authorisation for the active agent glyphosate runs out at the end of 2017. By then a decision must be taken on whether glyphosate is to be relicensed or not. At the beginning of July 2016, the EU Commission extended the licence by 18 months after the 28 member states represented in the relevant EU committees could not reach a qualified majority for or against relicensing.

The proposal

EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis recently presented a proposal to permit the use of the herbicide active agent Glyphosate in the European Union for a further ten years. It is reported that the use of Glyphosat before harvesting, in public parks and play areas is to be banned across the whole of the EU. The ban on the surfactant tallowamine continues.

The reaction

Manufacturers and farming industry leaders reacted with dismay, claiming that glyphosate has been given a clean bill of health by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and arguing that this would normally justify a 15-year licence renewal.

The Association of organic processors, wholesalers and retailers (BNN) and the Greens in the European Parliament have sharply criticised the proposal, maintaining that a clear majority of the population rejects the extension of approval for glyphosate. This applies across the board, irrespective of  being an organic shopper or not, and is true of other member states too.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said in the Agriculture Committee of the EU Parliament that the active agent glyphosate has been analysed ad nauseam. Elke Röder, managing director of BNN sees lobby politics at work opposing the vote of the people and, moreover, the cautionary principle being ignored. Several of the studies on glyphosate have been influenced by herbicide  manufacturers, as was reported by the New York Times. Many independent studies underline the danger of glyphosate to the environment and human health.  Also, two UN special rapporteurs recently rejected totally the argument often put forward that it's not possible to feed the world without the use of pesticides.

 European Citizens Initiative: no to GMO

Martin Häusling, the spokesperson for the Greens in the European Parliament on agricultural and environmental policy, objects to the proposal as such and to the way democracy is being ignored. He regards it as a slap in the face for three-quarters of a million people who recently signed the European Citizens Initiative opposing Glyphosate that is expected to have a successful outcome at the end of June ( He points out that the submitted proposal contains none of their demands – proposing an EU-wide ban, reforming the process for approving pesticides and establishing EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for the use of pesticides. Häusling explains that member states are now in a position to reject or to block the proposal.






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