Glyphosate authorisation back on the table next week

Opposition to the use of pesticides has been well-documented. [greensefa/Flickr]

Member states are to have another go at coming to an agreement on the use of the pesticide glyphosate next week. EURACTIV Germany reports.

An EU official has told AFP that a meeting has been scheduled for 6 June, in which the member states will try to come to a consensus on whether or not to reauthorise the use of the controversial chemical. An option that is currently on the table is to extend the existing authorisation period until the middle of next year.

Glyphosate is one of the most used ingredients in pesticides in the EU, but its potentially carcinogenic nature has brought its use under close scrutiny. A decision on whether to grant it a multi-year extension has already failed to materialise twice because of disagreements between member states.

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Greens MP Harald Ebner criticised the possibility of granting glyphosate a one-year-long extension, labelling it “one last trick” and warning that the measure would be “without restriction” and he urged the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to remain firm in their opposition.

If it were to come to a transitional solution, as has been suggested, then the amount of glyphosate used in products would also have to be reduced.

At governmental level in Berlin, the SPD have remained resolute in their opposition to glyphosate, while the CDU and CSU have supported an extension. Due to the failure to come to an agreement, Germany has abstained from voting on the issue so far.

On Friday (27 May), the German Medical Assembly called on Berlin and the European Commission to oppose reauthorising the chemical.

The association of doctors emphasised that the precautionary principle counts in their favour, as well as referring to a study in which the weedkiller has been found to cause “DNA and chromosomal defects in human cells”. Before reauthorisation could be granted, these adverse side effects would have to be ruled out, insisted the medical practitioners.

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in November 2015 that glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer in humans and proposed higher limits on the amount of residue of the weedkiller deemed safe for humans to consume.

The EFSA advises EU policymakers and its conclusion were expected to pave the way for the 28-member European Union to renew approval for glyphosate, which was brought into use by Monsanto in the 1970s and is used in its top selling product Roundup as well as in many other herbicides around the world.

Environmental groups have been calling for a ban after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, said in March 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

A campaign group said that 1.4 million people had signed a petition calling on the European Union to suspend glyphosate approval pending further assessment.

The EFSA said it had carried out a thorough analysis and taken account of the IARC’s findings. Greenpeace, for its part, called the EFSA’s report “a whitewash”.

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