A conclusion may be close at hand in the dramatic debate between the Commission and the Parliament of the European Union (EU) over the continued use of the chemical glyphosate.
In a non-binding resolution conducted near the end of October, a majority of the members of the EU Parliament voted to support a recommendation from the Parliaments’ Environment and Public Health Committee that would immediately ban the use of glyphosate in household products and in agricultural applications in which alternative methods have demonstrated results comparable to the herbicide, and an outright ban on the chemical by December 2020.
The resolution was a swift rebuke to a proposal by the EU Commission to extend its approval of glyphosate for 10 years. The Commission’s proposal was based on a report published earlier this year by the European Chemical Agency (ECA) that found no causal link by glyphosate and an increased incidence of cancer in humans. The ECA’s findings were similar to those produced by investigations conducted by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), as well as separate research conducted by regulatory authorities in Canada and Japan.
According to a press release issued by the EU Parliament, the Parliament’s non-binding resolution was prompted by significant questions surrounding the scientific basis of the studies behind the ECA’s report, and the belief that the evaluation of substances should be based exclusively on “peer-reviewed and independent studies commissioned by competent public authorities.”
In the aftermath of the vote by the EU Parliament, the Commission backed away from its initial 10-year renewal on the use of glycoside and has instead proposed a five to seven-year extension of its existing approval. But a separate vote on November 9th produced no majority either for or against the extension. The European Commission says it will now submit the proposal to the appeal committee by the end of November.
A widely-used agricultural herbicide since it was introduced in the 1970s, glyphosate is a key ingredient in a number of weed-killing products, including Monsanto’s Roundup. Products containing glyphosate have been the subject of numerous legal actions in the U.S. and elsewhere, actions that only accelerated following a 2015 report by the World Health Organisation identifying glyphosate as a probable cause of cancer.
The text of the EU Parliament’s press release related to glyphosate is available here.