Ignoring a Parliament vote asking for only a 7-year approval of the controversial herbicide glyphosate, the EU executive would also set aside restrictions for private use or use close to public gardens and playgrounds.
According to a leaked proposal seen by Euranet Plus, the European Commission plans to propose a 10-year renewal of the authorization of glyphosate, the most used herbicide in the world, also famous for being the active substance in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup.
The text was leaked in the wake of the resolution adopted last week in Strasbourg, in which the EU lawmakers had asked the Commission to renew the EU market approval for only seven years instead of 15, as proposed by the EU executive on February 24.
The Parliament had also asked to ban any “non-professional use” of herbicides containing glyphosate in private gardens as well as “close to public parks, public playgrounds and public gardens.”
“This leaked project from the Commission and the [EU] member states is a big joke when you know that this product is considered as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization,” the French member of European Parliament (MEP), Michèle Rivasi from the Greens, stated.
“This draft regulation only asks to pay attention to the effect of glyphosate on non-target vertebrate species. Moreover, it continues to authorize glyphosate not only as herbicide, but also to accelerate harvesting by accelerating the ripening process,” Rivasi said.
This farming practice known as “green burndown” has been condemned by EU lawmakers in their resolution voted on April 13.
Ongoing negotiation with EU member states
The EU Commission has not confirmed the validity of the leaked draft, but the 10-year renewal fits the figures already mentioned by Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis after an environment council last month.
“There is currently a negotiation with member states,” explained Enrico Brivio, Andriukaitis’ spokesperson. “But at the end of the day, the decision must be based on a clear qualified majority of the member states.”
The final decision might be taken on May 18-19 during the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF), an institution which gathers the member states’ experts.
“If there is no clear majority, then the proposal will be not pushed forward,” added a source close to the matter. Indeed, a first proposal for a 15-year renewal found no qualified majority on March 8.
Countries like France, Italy and the Netherlands were against such a long renewal while Germany, involved in the process as so-called rapporteur members state, abstained.
The leaked regulation, expressively presented as a document which “does not necessarily represents the view of the European Commission,” offers an interesting view on the current state of play of the negotiations.
While the Netherlands and Luxembourg insisted on possibly reviewing “without delay” the authorization when the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) will close its classification procedure of glyphosate – a process which is supposed to last until 2017 – Germany insisted on the fact that member states might take into account that the use of glyphosate may affect certain animal species.
In a monograph published in March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency which belongs to the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that “the herbicide glyphosate […] was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In a contradictory and controversial conclusion, the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA) stated in November last year that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”
Since the late 1970s, the volume of so-called “glyphosate-based herbicides” has increased approximately 100-fold.
A scientific report published last February stated that “major increases in its use resulted from widespread adoption of Roundup-ready crops that were genetically engineered to be tolerant to glyphosate.”