Shedding Light in the Darkness

More Trouble For Monsanto in Europe

According to the Wall Street Journal the future of weedkiller glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup, in the European Union market remains unclear, after a proposal to temporarily extend its sales authorization failed to garner the necessary majority on Monday.

Glyphosate’s EU sales license expires at the end of the month. Reauthorizing the widely used weedkiller has run into opposition from several governments.

The unclear outcome of Monday’s vote—in which the vast majority of the EU’s 28 member states backed an extension but failed to meet the necessary population threshold—leaves the final decision in the hands of the European Commission.

The EU’s executive arm had proposed a temporary extension of the sales license by 12 to 18 months. That would allow the European Chemicals Agency to come up with an opinion on the health impact of the substance.

Malta was the only country that voted against the extension, while 20 member states voted in favor, said an official familiar with the confidential vote. But because Germany, France and Italy abstained from casting a vote, the proposal failed to get the support of member states representing at least 65% of the EU’s population.

In April the European Parliament proposed some significant restrictions. Glyphosate had been applied to wheat as a pre-harvest weed-killer and as a desiccant to allow faster harvesting. The EU Parliament suggested “restrictions on use in agricultural fields shortly before harvesting,” calling such uses “unacceptable.”

Farmers were spraying their wheat with glyphosate to kill and dry the crop, making it easier to harvest. According to the UK Soil Association, testing by the Defra Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food found that as much as 30% of UK bread contained glyphosate.

MEPs called for an independent review and the publication of all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate. The Parliament called for “full disclosure of the scientific evidence behind an assessment of glyphosate by the EFSA” – overturning over 50 years of unpublished, industry funded studies being used in secret to get pesticides authorized.

The EU Parliament also proposed banning the use of glyphosate in public spaces, calling for “a ban on all uses of glyphosate-based herbicides in private and public green areas, including spraying in and around public parks, playgrounds and gardens.”

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