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Germany set to approve glyphosate, despite public opinion

Agriculture & Food

Germany set to approve glyphosate, despite public opinion

Overwhelming opposition in Europe's largest countries to glyphosate comes ahead of a crucial few months for the pesticide's producers and their quest for reapproval.

[Kevin Krejci/Flickr]

Glyphosate remains a controversial issue, and it seems that Berlin will seek to allow its continued use, albeit with limitations in place. EurActiv Germany reports.

“Probably carcinogenic” is how the World Health Organisation has described glyphosate. In November, 96 scientists penned an open letter to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in which they outlined the past failings of how risk assessments have been carried out.  According to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, German lawmakers planning to reauthorise the chemical, just a few days before the European Parliament votes on the same issue.

According to the same article, in a March letter to the European Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that, “with your consent, Germany would like to successfully complete the process of approving the active ingredient glyphosate”. However, due to pressure from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, approval will come with strings attached, in the form of limitations, with an emphasis on protecting biodiversity.

Overwhelming majority of Germans contaminated by glyphosate

The herbicide glyphosate can enter the body through food or drinking water. A new study has shown that the majority of Germans have been contaminated by the compound. EurActiv Germany reports.

The matter of reauthorising the use of glyphosate will be high on the EU’s agenda this summer. Today (13 April), the Parliament will vote on whether to scrap the Commission’s proposal to renew the pesticide’s authorisation, pending further review of its hormonal effects and evidence that it may be carcinogenic. The Commission did not consider a ban, due to the recommendations of the EFSA.

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis gave into pressure over the use of glyphosate earlier this month and sent a letter to Monsanto and other producers of the herbicide, asking them to make their data and study results available, in order for a decision on reauthorising the product to be made.

The Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) announced on Thursday (6 April) its offer to provide “reading rooms” to Andriukaitis. Complete disclosure of the 14 studies carried out will not happen, as GTF has concerns about intellectual property and the confidential nature of the raw data within.

Glyphosate is currently the world’s most used pesticide. A recent study by the Julius Kühn Institute, which specialises in research on cultivated plants, found that a phase-out of glyphosate would be possible.

EU scientists advise higher safety limits on glyphosate weedkiller

Glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which proposed higher limits on Thursday (12 November) on the amount of residue of the weedkiller deemed safe for humans to consume.

This comes on the back of results of a YouGov survey, carried out on behalf of WeMove.EU and Campact, in which it was revealed that 64% of the combined population of the five largest member states is in favour of an EU ban on glyphosate.

In Italy, 75% want the herbicide banned, and in Germany and France the figures were 70% and 60%, respectively. Over 50% want a ban in the United Kingdom and Spain as well. Only a small proportion, ranging from six to 12%, are in favour of it being granted reauthorisation.

Gerald Neubauer of Campact said that: “These results from all of Europe’s large countries are a clear indication to the European Parliament and Commissioner Andriukaitis: People don’t want toxins in their food. Glyphosate should not be renewed again!”

Jörg Rohwedder from WeMove.EU also added that “In the EU, the precautionary principle applies. As long as a risk to human health cannot be ruled out, approval should not be granted for such a strong plant poison.”