Decision to ban glyphosate a ‘shared responsibility’ for EU states

The majority of EU member states will need to get behind the re-approval of glyphosate before the European Commission decides against a ban, according to the European Health and Food Safety Commissioner.

Commenting during a meeting of EU agricultural ministers on Monday, July 17, Vytenis Andriukaitis said it was the “shared responsibility” of national governments to extend the approval of the product, Reuters reports.

The commissioner said he had no reason to doubt the safety of the weed killer, which was not classified as a carcinogen by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) earlier this year.

Still, the ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment agreed to maintain the current harmonised classification of glyphosate as a substance causing serious eye damage and being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects, after considering extensive scientific data.

Glyphosate, which has been authorised in the EU since 2002, is the main chemical ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and is an active substance used in the production of pesticides.

In 2016, three reports with differing conclusions regarding the chemical were published; two agreed that it was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard, while the third concluded that it probably had the potential to cause cancer in humans.

And, earlier this month, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuiness, warned that political pressure to ban herbicides would only increase in the future.

According to the MEP, more than one million citizens have put their names to a petition looking to ban glyphosate – a move she said was “a signal for how citizens perceive plant protection products”.

The EU has been in a deadlock over the future of glyphosate within the bloc, with France and Germany among a number of states that have previously abstained from voicing their opinions.

The Reuters report quoted Andruikaitis as saying: “I wanted to make clear that the commission has no intention to re-approve this substance without the support of a qualified majority of member states. This is and will remain a shared responsibility.”

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