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European Parliament News Item, 22 March 2016
So long as serious concerns remain about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, which is used in hundreds of farm, forestry, urban and garden applications, the EU Commission should not renew its authorisation. Instead, it should commission an independent review and disclose all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate, said Environment Committee MEPs on Tuesday.
The European Commission should not renew the approval of the herbicide substance glyphosate on the EU market for another 15 years, until 2031,, without any restrictions as proposed, said the Environment Committee in a resolution passed by 38 votes to 6, with 18 abstentions.
"The fact that we have to resort to a parliamentary objection shows that something has gone wrong in the decision process", said MEP Pavel Poc (S&D, CZ), who drafted the motion for a resolution.
"Glyphosate has been classified as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). While the industry claimed that the substance can be completely metabolised, it is now clear that glyphosate residues are everywhere: in the environment, in many products we consume every day, in our bodies", he continued.
Publish the scientific evidence
"Will the European Commission and EFSA publish the studies on which their proposal is based? Why propose authorising glyphosate for another 15 years, the longest period possible? We need those studies to be made public, and we should wait until we have them. Any uncertainty must be avoided before proceeding with the approval of a substance that is so broadly used. That is how precautionary principle should be applied", he concluded.
The non-binding resolution calls on the EU executive to table a new draft. MEPs want the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority to “immediately disclose all the scientific evidence that has been a basis for the positive classification of glyphosate and the proposed re-authorisation, given the overriding public interest in disclosure”.
The EU Food and Veterinary Office should also be mandated to test and monitor glyphosate residues in foods and drinks, it adds.
The motion for a resolution, co-signed by Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL, CZ), Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) Piernicola Pedicini (EFDD, IT), on behalf of their respective political groups, and MEPs Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE), Sirpa Pietikainen (EPP, FI) and Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE), will be put to a vote at the 11-14 April plenary session in Strasbourg.
National experts sitting in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Phytopharmaceuticals Section) will vote to adopt or reject the Commission proposal by qualified majority in May. If there is no such majority, it will be up to the European Commission to decide.
Note for editors
Glyphosate is an active substance widely used in herbicides. Patented in the early 1970s, it introduced to the consumer market in 1974 as a broad-spectrum herbicide and quickly became a best seller. Since its patent expired in 2000, glyphosate has been marketed by various companies and several hundred plant protection products containing glyphosate are currently registered in Europe for use on crops.