Girling: Banning glyphosate without evidence undermines the whole system
Banning popular weed killer glyphosate within five years and ignoring robust scientific evidence risks undermining the EU’s entire regulatory approval process for herbicides, warned ECR environment coordinator Julie Girling today.
Having only last year recommended that glyphosate be renewed for a period of seven years, and despite presenting no new scientific evidence that it is unsafe to use, the parliament has now decided that glyphosate should only be renewed for a maximum of five years. The European Commission is not legally obliged to act upon the parliament’s recommendation, but the position of the plenary could affect decision-making in their Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, which will seek to renew the authorisation of glyphosate at a meeting tomorrow.
Glyphosate is a weed killer that is widely used in herbicides and is authorised for use in all EU Member States. As with all plant protection products, it is subject to strict regulation and use is only authorised on the basis that there are no harmful effects on human health or unacceptable risks to the environment. Should the current authorisation lapse, products will have to be withdrawn from the market. This would have a severe impact on the availability of herbicides for users across the EU, including significant loss of yield for arable and horticultural crops.
Speaking after the vote, Girling said:
“We’ve put in place an approval system for chemicals that uses robust scientific evidence – this is the best way to protect people and the environment. Voting for a ban on a chemical such as glyphosate, when all the evidence shows it is safe, risks undermining the whole approval system and trust in it.”
“Ignoring evidence because politicians do not agree with it is not an option. Farmers across the EU rely on glyphosate and the uncertainty surrounding its renewal, which exploits emotional judgment for political gain, won’t go away if it’s only approved for a further five years.”
The European Commission submitted the proposal for renewing glyphosate’s license for a further ten years based on the findings of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s peer review which conclude that glyphosate should not be classified as a carcinogen. Their analysis was supported by experts from 27 Member States, national authorities outside the EU, such as Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Joint UN FAO–WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues.