Representatives from E.U. countries postpone vote on authorizing use of glyphosate
WASHINGTON— Today in Brussels representatives from the European Union (E.U.) failed to pass a temporary reauthorization of glyphosate – a toxic chemical in the common pesticide RoundUp determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a “probable carcinogen”. The committee was asked to grant re-authorization for between one and two years, to allow for completion of a safety assessment currently in progress at the European Chemicals Agency, but rejected the proposal. If the European Commission does not re-authorize the chemical’s use by June 30th, it will be considered illegal to use throughout the E.U. and all products containing glyphosate would be pulled from the market after a six-month grace period. Several countries including the Netherlands and France have already acted to restrict public access to glyphosate within their own borders on the basis that it poses a severe risk to human and environmental health.
The following is a statement from Andy Kimbrell, director of Center for Food Safety:
“Glyphosate has been scientifically linked to cancer in humans and to the severe decline of monarch butterflies, an important indicator species. We know that this chemical is dangerous to people, pollinators, our food supply and the environment. Several countries have already acted to restrict public access to glyphosate because of the health risks it poses as a probable carcinogen, and we should do the same. The E.U. has an opportunity to get this toxic chemical off the market and if they do, we hope it will provide further incentive for the U.S. to follow suit.”
The concerns over the safety of glyphosate came to the fore in March 2015 when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that the chemical is “probably carcinogenic in humans.”
The European Commission previously postponed a vote to reauthorize glyphosate by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed after it became clear that there was not enough support from member countries to pass the measure.
Following the vote today, the Commission now has two options. Most likely, the issue will be referred to an appeal committee within the European Commission. This panel would be expected to be scheduled on June 20, to allow for a resolution prior to the June 30 deadline. However, it’s not an option that Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker favors. With little room to negotiate, it is likely that voting will once again reach an impasse, which would mean that the Commission would have to make a final unilateral decision without member country support.
The second option is for the Commission to do nothing and allow the June 30 deadline to pass by, resulting in market pull of glyphosate products. Officials are acutely aware of the potential lawsuits that could be brought from Monsanto (the producers of RoundUp) and other glyphosate producers if this were to happen.
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