Brussels – Greenpeace has called on the European Commission to prepare a glyphosate exit plan, after an EU vote on the controversial weedkiller today cleared the way for the Commission to push through a temporary licence extension.

The original ten-year glyphosate licence expired in June 2012, but the Commission extended it twice, in 2011 and 2015, to 14 years. The Commission will now extend the licence further to a total of 15 years and six months, until the end of 2017, when the European Chemicals Agency is expected to complete an assessment of glyphosate’s negative effects on human health and the environment.

The Commission again failed to gain the backing of a qualified majority of EU countries (representing at least 55 per cent of countries and 65 per cent of the EU population) for its plan to extend the licence, but under EU rules can still push the extension through regardless.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Commission is about to give glyphosate an unreasonable grace period, which will continue to leave people and nature exposed to the controversial weedkiller. It should use this time to draw up a glyphosate exit plan. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in Europe and has been linked to serious health concerns and loss of wildlife. It’s time for Europe to plan for a glyphosate-free future.”

Thousands of organic farmers show how weed control is possible without glyphosate. In arable farming, for example, a combination of crop rotation, catch crops and undergrowth can suppress the growth of weeds. Mechanical means (e.g. soil tillage before sowing and rotary hoeing later in season) can be used to combat the remaining weeds [1].

The World Health Organisation’s cancer experts (IARC) found in March 2015 that glyphosate is a probable cause of cancer. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contradicted IARC in November 2015, saying glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer. EFSA partly based its assessment on confidential studies commissioned by glyphosate producers, while the IARC assessment was only based on publicly available scientific evidence.

For more information on glyphosate, please see our May 2016 media briefing.

 

Note:

[1] Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, 2013. Many Little Hammers. Ecologically-Based Weed Management. http://www.oacc.info/NewspaperArticles/tcog_2012/tcog_many_little_hammers.asp

Contacts:

Franziska Achterberg – Greenpeace EU food policy director: +32 (0)498 36 24 03,

franziska.achterberg@greenpeace.org

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 19 11, pressdesk.eu@greenpeace.org

 For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.