Brussels – European governments have again refused to support a European Commission plan to grant a shortened but unrestricted licence for glyphosate, Europe’s most widely used weedkiller that has been linked to cancer and environmental harm.
The Commission is now expected to take the same proposal to a vote in the so-called appeals committee, where it is also expected to fail. Thereafter, the Commission has the power to adopt its own proposal without the backing of European governments.
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Commission is trying to ram through a new glyphosate licence despite massive scandals surrounding its main maker and the EU’s own risk assessment. A new licence is a new licence, regardless of its length. If the Commission continues to allow this toxic chemical to contaminate our soils, water, food and bodies, it is simply rewarding Monsanto for obscuring the dangers linked to its weedkiller. The EU needs to ban it now, not in three, five or ten more years.”
Since early 2016, the Commission has backed an unrestricted EU licence for glyphosate. On six occasions it failed to garner sufficient support for its proposal from European governments (on 8 March 2016, 19 May 2016, 6 June 2016, 24 June 2016 and 25 October 2017). Nine countries representing 32.26% of the EU population voted against a five-year renewal of the glyphosate licence (Austria, Belgium, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta), while five countries representing 30.79% of the EU population abstained (Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Romania). Fourteen countries voted in favour representing 36.95% of the EU population (Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the U.K.).
Serious concerns have been raised about the influence glyphosate manufacturers may have had on the EU’s evaluation of the risks linked to glyphosate. EFSA has come under fire after it was revealed that large sections of its glyphosate assessment rejecting independent scientific evidence were copied from an application submitted by Monsanto. The Monsanto Papers have also raised questions about the corporate capture of the glyphosate regulatory process. The inspector general of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched an investigation into potential collusion between a former senior staff member and Monsanto.
The European Parliament has called for a full glyphosate ban within five years, starting with immediate restrictions, including for non-professional uses and pre-harvest spraying. The governments of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Malta have similarly called for a ban within the next few years but have not yet proposed immediate restrictions that would lend credibility to this commitment.
Over one million people have signed a European citizen’s initiative calling for a glyphosate ban, while polling in Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece shows growing concern and overwhelming support for a ban.
Experts, including Germany’s Julius Kühn Institute, have argued that farming without glyphosate does not need to come at an additional cost. Progressive farmers’ associations, such as Confédération Paysanne in France and AbL in Germany, support a glyphosate ban and a transition to pesticide-free farming.
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
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.