Brussels – A qualified majority of European governments voted to approve the European Commission’s plan to grant a five-year unrestricted licence to glyphosate, a widely used weedkiller that has been linked to cancer and environmental harm.
The European Commission will now issue a formal renewal of the licence for glyphosate in the EU.
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The people who are supposed to protect us from dangerous pesticides have failed to do their jobs and betrayed the trust Europeans place in them. The European Commission and most governments have chosen to ignore the warnings of independent scientists, the demands of the European Parliament and the petition signed by more than one million people calling for a glyphosate ban. The threats of corporate lawsuits are of obviously of much greater concern to them than people’s health and the environment.”
Nine countries voted against the five-year licence (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Malta), while one country abstained (Portugal) and the other eighteen countries voted in favour (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain and the UK).
The Commission plan is based on a flawed health risk assessment of glyphosate, which states there is insufficient evidence of a cancer link, despite the WHO’s classification of the weedkiller as a probable cause of cancer.
The EU’s food (EFSA) and chemicals (ECHA) agencies relied on the pesticide industry’s own interpretation of unpublished cancer data when assessing glyphosate. In addition, crucial sections of the EFSA assessment were copy-pasted from the application for a new licence submitted by glyphosate producers. Important findings linking glyphosate to health concerns were thus dismissed.
In October, the European Parliament called for a full glyphosate ban within five years, starting with an immediate ban of use in public spaces, private gardens and unnecessary farming uses, such as pre-harvest spraying.
Over one million Europeans have signed a European Citizens’ Initiative calling for a glyphosate ban, while polling in Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece shows growing concern and overwhelming support for a ban.
Franziska Achterberg: Greenpeace EU food policy director: +32 (0)498 36 24 03, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, email@example.com
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