WASHINGTON, June 28, 2016 - The European Commission will extend the authorization of glyphosate for 18 months while the European Chemicals Agency examines its health effects.

The EC's Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said at a news conference today that the EC “will follow our legal obligations” and extend the authorization before the current one expires June 30.

Andriukaitis said he was “surprised” at the position taken by some EU nations, presumably referring to some of the larger states that have reportedly resisted reauthorization.

Although use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp, is not as heavy in Europe as in the U.S., one analyst told Reuters that Monsanto could lose $100 million in earnings if it had to stop selling RoundUp in Europe.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) said it was pleased with -- and frustrated by -- by the reauthorization.

“An 18-month extension gives U.S. farmers and exporters the assurance that they will at least have access to the European market for that period of time," ASA President and Greenwood, Del., soybean farmer Richard Wilkins said.

"We are still extraordinarily frustrated by the unscientific approach in the EU," Wilkins said. "Remember, the European Food Safety Authority found that glyphosate is safe. Given this repeatedly proven fact, it's a relief that the commission decided to step in and issue this reauthorization, even after the Council of Ministers was unable to find the support among its members to affirm the EFSA finding."

The European Crop Protection Association was less sanguine. "I’m sure many will paint this as some kind of victory for our industry, but frankly we are disappointed that after the European Commission originally proposed a 15-year re-approval, we are now left with an 18-month extension, pending yet another assessment to add to the 90,000 pages and 3,500 studies of evidence that already exists," said ECPA spokesperson Graeme Taylor. "This only serves to demonstrate that what should be a scientific process has been completely undermined by politics.”

And Monsanto had a mixed reaction. Dr. Philip W. Miller, Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory and governmental affairs, said that the decision "ensures that European farmers, municipalities, gardeners and other users will continue to have access to the herbicide glyphosate while a longer-term solution to the product’s reauthorization is found.

We join European farmers and other users in expressing concern over the recent rise of narrowly-focused politics of self interest, where national or partisan political imperatives take precedence over facts, scientific understanding and the interests of its citizens," Miller said. "Monsanto urges the European Commission to present without further undue delays a proposal for a full renewal under the regulatory framework."
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The last chance to get popular support for the authorization - short of leaving it to the commission, the EU's governing body - was scotched last week when an “appeals committee” representing all 28 EU states failed to reach a “qualified majority.”

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.


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