Glyphosate, Europe defers the decision on whether to license it or not

The vote on the renewal of the license to use glyphosate in Europe has been postponed thanks to the pressure of political parties and civil society. But it’s too early to call it a victory.

Any decision on whether to extend the license to use glyphosate in Europe, expected on 8 March, has been put off due to the rising opposition of member states – including France, Sweden, Netherlands and Italy – as well as the pressure of some parliamentary groups including the Socialists and the Democrats. This is what spokesman of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Pavel Poc said, as reported by ANSA. The damages glyphosate causes on people’s health have been pointed out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which classified the herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.


Initially, a new 15-year license by the European Commission was taken for granted. But things changed as the opposition got stronger, given the need of granting the precautionary principle to all European citizens. The existing license expires at the end of June.


Un campo di cotone nello stato americano del Mississippi © Scott Olson/Getty Images
Cotton field in the US state of Mississippi © Scott Olson/Getty Images


“We know that more and more states are becoming aware of the risks glyphosate poses and are worried about their citizens’ health,” concluded Poc. “Public health must be a priority. We’ve already learnt this lesson with DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) many years ago. We should not bring future generations to face useless risks”.


Similarly, Federica Ferrario, Greenpeace Italia Responsible for the Sustainable Agriculture Campaign, said: “It would be insane renewing the license for glyphosate without the analysis of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). As long as there are conflicting scientific stances, glyphosate should not be approved in the EU”.


Therefore, it’s too early to call it a victory, since the definitive decision has been postponed to May. But glyphosate, which is now present in gardens, parks and schoolyards, as well as in the fields where food and raw materials are cultivated for the production of clothes and cosmetics, could be soon banned. Over the last 10 years, more than 6,000 tonnes of glyphosate have been sprayed all over the world.

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