European Parliament backs 7-year renewal for glyphosate

By Stephen Davies

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 13, 2016 - The European Parliament is recommending that the European Commission, the governing arm of the EU, renew its authorization of glyphosate for seven years and release all data used in a recent assessment of the herbicide by the European Food Safety Authority.

Members of the Parliament (MEPs) voted 374-225, with 102 abstentions, for the nonbinding resolution. The EC's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Phytopharmaceuticals Section) is scheduled to vote next month to adopt or reject an existing EC proposal to renew approval of the herbicide for 15 years, with few conditions.

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If the proposal is not adopted by a “qualified majority,” then the EC itself would have to decide. A committee vote slated for last month was postponed. The current authorization is due to expire June 30.

The resolution calls on the EC to approve glyphosate, which Monsanto brought to market in 1974 under the trade name Roundup, for seven years but ban any “non-professional uses” of the chemical, the most heavily used weed-killer active ingredient in the world.

The resolution notes that the Commission can withdraw its approval during that seven-year period “on the basis that new scientific evidence can demonstrate that it no longer satisfies the criteria for its approval.”

The Commission should table the current 15-year reauthorization proposal for a number of reasons, including “serious concerns about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, but also doubts as regards a possible mode of action in relation to its endocrine-disruptive properties,” the resolution said.

The parliamentary group that proposed the compromise was happy with the outcome.

“We are in favor of a temporarily limited renewal, but above all, we want much stricter conditions than those foreseen by the Commission,” said MEP Peter Liese, the European People's Party group spokesman in the environment committee.

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“In my opinion, it is absurd that in many European countries, glyphosate is still used in order to optimize the date of harvesting or in order to kill the cultivated plant just before harvest, making the use of harvesting machines easier,” he said. “In some countries, this has already been prohibited for a couple of years and this should also be the case in Europe.”

The vote was criticized by Czech MEP Kateřina Konečná, coordinator for the European United Left/Nordic Green Left on the environment committee.

“Right-wing groups succeeded in passing their amendment calling on the Commission to renew the approval of glyphosate for another seven years,” she said. “Glyphosate is ‘carcinogenic' to animals and ‘probably carcinogenic' to humans and its authorization should not be renewed. This is an outrageous gamble with the health of European citizens by the Commission and right-wing groups.”

Matthew Phillips, director, Crop Protection and Seeds at Phillips McDougall, however, told Agri-Pulse, “That's very good news that common sense has prevailed.” Phillips McDougall is a crop protection and agricultural biotechnology consulting firm. Phillips was attending the Croplife America/Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment spring conference in Washington.         

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