Agriculture Plant Science

Glyphosate: Brussels Backs 10-Year Extension for Its Use

Key Takeaways

  1. The European Commission has recommended a 10-year extension for the use of glyphosate in the EU.
  2. Glyphosate, a herbicide chemical, has been controversial due to its potential carcinogenic effects on humans.
  3. The extension comes after the EU’s food safety agency found no critical areas of concern but acknowledged data gaps.
  4. The decision has sparked debate among EU member states, some of which have considered restricting glyphosate use.
  5. NGOs and public opinion are largely against the extension, citing risks to human health, biodiversity, and agriculture.

The European Commission has confirmed its recommendation to extend the authorization to use glyphosate in the European Union for another 10 years. This decision has far-reaching implications for agriculture, public health, and environmental conservation.

The Decision and Its Basis

The European Commission’s recommendation comes after the EU’s food safety agency, EFSA, found no critical areas of concern in its July assessment of glyphosate. However, officials acknowledged that the analysis had data gaps and failed to reach conclusions on certain aspects, including its impact on consumer diets. “Our proposal is based on solid scientific information,” said an EU spokesperson.

Controversy Surrounding Glyphosate

Glyphosate, a chemical commonly used in herbicides like weed killers, has been controversial since 2015 when the World Health Organization’s cancer agency concluded that it was probably carcinogenic to humans. Despite this, French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau stated that Paris would back the EU’s decision, saying, “We trust the science, the studies which say that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic problem.”

Implications for Agriculture

The extension of glyphosate use has several implications for agriculture. On one hand, glyphosate is a highly effective herbicide that can increase crop yields by controlling weeds. On the other hand, its potential risks to human health and biodiversity cannot be ignored. Some EU countries, including France and Luxembourg, have considered restricting glyphosate products based on agricultural and environmental risks.

Public Opinion and NGO Stance

The decision has not been well-received by NGOs and the general public. The Pesticides Action Network Europe criticized the decision, stating it is “in stark contrast to the will of the Europeans.” A recent IPSOS poll in six EU countries suggested that only 14% of citizens supported prolonging the use of glyphosate.

What’s Next?

EU countries are expected to debate the Commission’s recommendation, with a vote expected on October 13. Individual countries can decide whether to place glyphosate products on the market if approved.

Photo by Eric Brehm on Unsplash 

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