Today the European Commission extended the approval of glyphosate for a limited period of time, until the end of 2017 at the latest.
Ursula Hudson, member of Slow Food’s Executive Committee and President of Slow Food Germany: “The Commission is ignoring the advice of scientists and the voice of its citizens. It is also failing to respond to the need for transparency in its scientific evaluation of glyphosate before renewing the substance. Now the Member States must at least set clear restrictions on the use of glyphosate so as to minimize human exposure and protect its citizens. They must ban all uses that result in high risk of exposure of the public and of those who handle glyphosate, like amateur use in gardens and homes, as well as use in public parks, roadways, and railways. And, importantly, they must ban spraying food crops just before the harvest to avoid high levels of residues. Besides this immediate action to contain damages, space must be given for an honest debate on the possible pathways for transition towards a more respectful food and farming system in Europe, based on independent and fully transparent science.”
Slow Food calls on the EU to no longer ignore the externalization of the real costs of agroindustry that relies on substances like glyphosate at the expense of human health, animal health, biodiversity and soil health; and urgently asks that the principles of agroecology be introduced into agricultural production systems.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide. Instead of specifically dealing with unwanted weeds, it kills all plants indiscriminately. Glyphosate also kills beneficial bacteria, algae, fungi and traces of it have been detected in fruit and vegetables, in cereal-based products, GM corn and soybeans used as animal feed, beer samples and even organic products. Residues of this dangerous pesticide were also detected in human urine of consumers.
There is no scientific agreement on the carcinogenicity of glyphosate and its impact on the endocrine system. The EU Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is currently investigating the wider human health effects of glyphosate, the results will be published by the end of 2017. Should ECHA find that glyphosate can cause cancer or damage the endocrine system, then glyphosate will no longer be sold, according to EU law.
The decision comes following repeated failures to achieve qualified majority at the Standing Committee and again at the Appeal Committee on 24 June, both Committees representing Member States.
This decision also comes amidst diverging scientific opinions on the carcinogenicity of glyphosate and on its impact on the endocrine system. Over 2,000,000 citizens across Europe have signed a petition demanding the ban on glyphosate.
The Commission has proposed to the Member States to restrict the conditions of use of glyphosate in the EU, including a ban of a co-formulant (POE-tallowamine) from glyphosate-based products, obligations to reinforce scrutiny of pre-harvest uses of glyphosate as well as to minimise the use in specific areas (public parks and playgrounds). Discussions with the Member States took place this week but were inconclusive.