The EU postponed a decision on whether to extend approval of the controversial weedkiller ingredient for another 15 years amid uproar that it may cause cancer.
On Tuesday four EU states forced the delay of a vote to renew the licence for glyphosate -the main ingredient in Monsanto’s weedkiller ‘Roundup’- which has been found to be ‘probably carcinogenic’
Opposition to the relicensing also came from environmental groups, as well as an online petition that gathered 1.4m signatures.
The Guardian reports:
Italy joined France, Sweden and the Netherlands in opposing a new 15-year licence for glyphosate at a meeting which had been expected to rubber stamp its reapproval on Tuesday.
The European commission may now bring forward a new proposal to cut the licence’s length, or create a list of “co-formulants” whose use can be limited or banned. These surfactants increase a plant’s uptake of glyphosate, and can be more dangerous than the herbicide alone.
But the Netherlands is calling for the relicensing to be put on hold until after a separate evaluation of glyphosate’s toxicity next year.
Greenpeace EU’s food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, said: “Rushing to grant a new licence now, without waiting for an evaluation by Europe’s chemical agency, would be like skydiving without checking your equipment first. As long as there is conflicting scientific advice, glyphosate should not be approved for use in the EU.”
Industry groups were shocked by the delay to the vote however, which they blamed on political interference by environmentalists.
Jean-Charles Bocquet, the director of the European Crop Protection Agency, said: “We are very upset that countries were influenced by significant political pressure from the environment committee of the European parliament, NGOs and the precautionary principle.”
If no new arrangement is found then the licence for glyphosate, a core ingredient in Monsanto’s $5bn-a-year Roundup brand, will expire at the end of June.
The next EU pesticides committee meeting is on 18-19 May, but the issue could also be discussed at a plant and animal health meeting, one month before.