WASHINGTON, June 24, 2016 - European Union representatives did not approve glyphosate for continued use, leaving the decision up to the European Commission, the EU’s governing body.
At a meeting today, an appeals committee comprising representatives of the EU’s 28 member states could not reach a qualified majority to reauthorize the popular weedkiller, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp.
That means the EC will decide next week whether to approve glyphosate for another 12 to 18 months, while the European Chemicals Agency examines the product’s health effects. Glyphosate’s current authorization expires at the end of June.
The European Crop Protection Association criticized the lack of action.
“This ‘no opinion’ from the Appeals Committee is yet another blow for science-based decision-making in the EU,” ECPA’s Graeme Taylor said in a statement. “We share the sentiment voiced by (EC Health and Food Safety) Commissioner (Vytenis) Andriukaitis when he said our decisions should remain based on science, not on political convenience. With this decision all they do is cast doubt on that system, and create fear and confusion amongst Europe’s consumers, the very people the system is designed to protect.
“We hope the Commission, given that it was originally happy to propose a 15-year extension, will now proceed to adopt the decision on its own, as failure to re-approve glyphosate would have significant negative repercussions for the competitiveness of European agriculture, the environment, and the ability of farmers to produce safe and affordable food,” Taylor said.
Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley linked to a piece in The Times of London headlined, “Banning the world’s best weedkiller is green stupidity.” It was written by Matt Ridley, a British science writer and popular author. Fraley added his own statement: “Hate it when people make wrong decision for wrong reasons.”
On the flip side, the Greens in the European Parliament said the failure to reach a decision means that the EC should revoke the approval for glyphosate.
“There are clear concerns about the health risks with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor,” Green environment and food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said.
Referring to the Brexit vote, in which Britons narrowly voted to leave the EU, Staes said, “If the UK referendum has made one thing clear, it is that the EU needs to finally start listening to its citizens again.” Staes said that “forcing through the authorization would raise major democratic concerns about the EU's decision-making process. The process of phasing out glyphosate and other toxic herbicides and pesticides from agriculture must begin now, and this means reorienting the EU's Common Agricultural Policy towards a more sustainable agricultural model and a Common Food Policy.”The tally of the appeals committee vote, according to journalist Lorenzo Consoli: 19 in favor of reauthorization, two against (France and Malta), and seven abstentions (Denmark, Italy, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Bulgaria). A qualified majority is achieved if a decision is supported by 55 percent of member states (meaning at least 15), which represent at least 65 percent of the EU's population.