Glyphosate showdown in Europe this week

In Brussels this week, the EU is set to vote on the controversial proposal to relicense glyphosate for another 10-year time-frame.

This will be conducted at a meeting of the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed.

The proposal set to be tabled on Wednesday, October 25, to member states is identical to the one that was put forward earlier in the month on October 5, which was postponed to a later date.

France has already voiced its opposition to the proposal and Germany is believed to be looking into abstaining from the vote.

It is believed that France has taken this position as a result of concerns over glyphosate’s risk to human health – which has led to significant investigative reports across the world.

Back in July, EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said glyphosate would only be relicensed if it got sufficient backing, noting that the commission has no intention of reauthorising the herbicide without a “qualified majority”, according to Reuters.

This would mean that at least 16 member states would have to support the proposal, along with a representation of 65% of the European population.

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella organisation that represents European farmers’ groups at EU-level, has urged the EU to reauthorise glyphosate for longer than the 10-year time-frame, pushing instead for a 15-year period – noting that there are “no safety concerns” and that its use is “essential together with catch crops to prevent soil erosion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Irish MEP and first vice-president of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness recently said in parliament that “nothing new” was heard in a recent public hearing on ‘The Monsanto Papers and Glyphosate’.

Scientific evidence and advice from EU agencies – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – that glyphosate is not a carcinogen was repeated during the hearing, she said.

McGuinness highlighted that this is advice and guidance that she accepts, while also noting that even those who are in favour of banning glyphosate admit that there will be huge consequences for European agriculture.

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