EU votes to rein in ‘probably carcinogenic’ glyphosate – but not an outright ban

EU votes to rein in ‘probably carcinogenic’ glyphosate – but not an outright ban


By: Aisha Dodwell
Date: 13 April 2016
Campaigns: Food

cf71pz3wwaagklyMonsanto has suffered a blow today as the European Parliament has called for heavy restrictions on the use of glyphosate, one of their most lucrative chemicals, and the key ingredient in their flagship Roundup herbicide.

While a number of groups who have been campaigning for a European ban on glyphosate have been hailing today’s decision a victory, for others it does not go far enough.

Over 10,000 Global Justice Now supporters have signed a petition calling for the outright banning of this chemical, which has been declared by the World Health Organisation as probably causing cancer. They are among millions of citizens from across the continent making this demand.

While the resolution passed today doesn’t call for an outright ban, it does call for a ban on all non-professional uses; a ban on using glyphosate in or near public parks, playgrounds and gardens; as well as banning its use where integrated pest management systems are sufficient.  It also suggests the relicensing period be for a reduced seven years (down from 15), meaning it would have to be reviewed again in 2023.

Bart Staes, a spokesperson for the Green Party bloc said:

The European Parliament has today highlighted serious concerns with the proposal to re-approve glyphosate for use in Europe and the Commission and EU governments must take note. We would have preferred if MEPs had followed the recommendation of the EP’s environment committee in clearly calling for an outright rejection of the re-approval of glyphosate.

The decision not to call for an outright ban, has led to a rather bizarre scenario where those on the pro-glyphosate lobby have also called this decision a success. For the likes of the National Farmers Union the decision to green-light the continued use of glyphosate for ‘professional’ purposes is a success. In a press statement today they hailed the decision “positive for agriculture”

Despite today’s vote, the celebrations on both side may be premature. The real judgment day for glyphosate is yet to come. It won’t be until May when a group of experts take the final, and binding, decision about its relicensing.  But given that two-thirds of the European public are in favour of a glyophosate ban, and opposition is growing among EU governments, there is still a strong chance that we can kick glyphosate (and Monsanto) out of Europe. Staes is hopeful for the upcoming May vote:

There is growing opposition among EU governments to reapproving glyphosate for use in the EU and we hope today’s vote, combined with major public opposition, will convince more governments to change their minds on glyphosate. Given the serious health and environmental concerns and conflicting scientific advice regarding glyphosate, it is scandalous that the EU Commission proposed to continue to allow its use for 15 more years, without any restrictions on its use. With the WHO assessment having concluded the substance is probably carcinogenic, EU government must heed these concerns and reject the Commission’s proposal.

If you want to take action and ask the UK government to back a ban of glyphosate you can take action here