EU: No decision taken on glyphosate

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

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The decisive vote due today on the reauthorization of the EU license for the controversial herbicide, glyphosate, did not take place - it was postponed.

The European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) did actually meet to discuss renewing the approval of the active substance.  

“At the conclusion of the meeting, however, no vote was taken,” ​confirmed Anca Paduraru, Commission spokesperson for health, food safety and energy union projects.

She told FeedNavigator that the EU executive has taken note of the positions of the different member state delegations, and “will now reflect”​ on those.

“It will announce the date of the next meeting shortly,”​ she added.

The spokesperson said the Commission will continue to work with EU countries to find a outcome that “enjoys the largest possible support, which ensures a high level of protection of human health and the environment, [and will be] in line with the EU legislation and based on the available scientific data.”

MEPs call for glyphosate ban 

Yesterday saw members of the European Parliament at the Strasbourg plenary back a proposal to phase out glyphosate in the EU within five years.

The MEPs opposed a 10-year extension on the controversial herbicide, instead voting for limitations on its use from 2018 and an outright ban by the end of 2022.

They voted 355 in favor of the ban and 204 against. There were 111 abstentions recorded.

The Commission originally proposed a 15-year marketing license for glyphosate but, under pressure from MEPs and due to indecision by member states, last June saw it come up with a revised approach, suggesting a license for 18 months, enough time to allow for the European Agency for Chemical Products (ECHA) to issue its opinion on the substance.

That agency issued its findings​ in March this year.

The EU risk assessment process on glypyhosate has been mired in controversy, as the UN cancer agency​ differed to the EU food safety authority​ ​and the ECHA in its conclusions regarding the safety of the herbicide.

Science-based decision making

The EU farming lobby, represented by Copa-Cogeca in Brussels, has continuously urged the EU to approve glyphosate for the customary 15 years.

Its secretary-general, Pekka Pesonen, told this publication last year that Copa and Cogeca has always supported science-based decision making and the role of EFSA as risk assessor in terms of the EU regulatory process: “Therefore, we consider that the EU Commission and the member states should proceed accordingly and renew the approval of glyphosate.”

Glyphosate provides three main benefits deriving from the single market, said Pesonen. "It is authorised in all member states; it has a wide range of uses adapted to different production conditions; and it is sold at a cost-effective price. At the moment, there is no single alternative fulfilling all these criteria.”

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