Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2016

Commission Daily News, 1 June 2016

PESTICIDES - Glyphosate: Commission proposes the way forward - Statement by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis

Today the Commission called for the EU Plants Animals Food and Feed Committee to meet on June 6 to discuss a limited extension of the current authorisation of glyphosate, an active substance used for the production of pesticides, until the European Chemical Agency gives its scientific assessment on the substance.

Commissioner Andriukaitis debriefed his colleagues Commissioners on the state of the discussions that the Commission is having with the Member States on the Glyphosate file. "[…] The EU's authorisation procedure as regards pesticides is the strictest in the world. It takes years of scientific assessment before an active substance is authorised – or renewed at EU level. Our scientific process is very stringent and relies on pooling of expertise between the European Food Safety Authority and all 28 Member States. […] We have been aiming at a solution that commands the widest possible support of the Member States. So far, even though a majority of Member States is in favour of the renewal, no qualified majority has been reached, in spite of the Commission's efforts to accommodate requests and concerns from a number of national governments, as well as from the European Parliament (which expressed itself in favour of a 7-year renewal). Some Member States have been reluctant to take a position. […] The EU approval of an active substance only means that the Member States can authorise plant protection products on their territory, but they are not obliged to do that. The Member States who wish not to use glyphosate based products have the possibility to restrict their use. They do not need to hide behind the Commission's decision. […]

However, if there is no EU approval, Member States have no choice anymore: the authorisation expires on the 1st of July. Should there be no extension, Member States would have to withdraw the authorisations for plant protection products containing glyphosate from their market. We have now called for the Expert Committee to meet on the 6th of June to discuss the file once again and take the vote on the basis of a limited extension of the current approval, until ECHA opinion dispels the remaining doubts. Next Monday, Member States will therefore be asked to vote on such a measure. Once again, this is a collective decision.  Going beyond these immediate measures, the Commission is preparing a second decision, reviewing the conditions of use of glyphosate. […] In conclusion, I want to reiterate that the ball is now in the Member States' court. […] As a Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, I reiterate that for me high level of protection of human health and the environment, as provided for by the EU legislation, is paramount. At the same time, I remained deeply convinced that our decisions should remain based on science, not on political convenience. I look forward to a response from the Member States."

Full statement and details on the proposal are available online.

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