The European Parliament has voted to support the re-approval of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weed killer and a key tool for European farmers.
Parliamentarians in Strasbourg rejected a motion to support a ban on glyphosate, however the text adopted calls for a seven year authorisation as opposed to the 15 years being proposed by the European Commission. The text contains a number of references to glyphosate being a suspected endocrine disrupter, without scientific basis. It also includes prescriptive measures on the use and application of glyphosate, such as banning non-professional use.
The EU’s independent advisory body the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently concluded that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risk to human health when used appropriately. In coming to that conclusion EFSA reviewed findings by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which has expressed concern about the substance.
The existing approval for glyphosate expires at the end of June, the Commission’s Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals (SCoPAFF) will meet in the coming weeks to agree the conditions of a re-authorisation
Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, welcomed the re-authorisation, but also issued caution over the adopted text stating: “I am glad that my colleagues in the European Parliament have seen common sense and voted with me to support the reauthorisation of glyphosate. It is essential that farmers in the South East have access to all the tools available and that European policy is based on proven science.”
“However the shortening of the extension sets a worrying precedent for questioning the work of EFSA. I am concerned with the report’s references to glyphosate as being a suspected endocrine disrupter as there is no scientific basis for these assertions. Furthermore prescriptive measures on the use and application of glyphosate, such as banning non-professional use are not the right approach. Whilst the outcome is not perfect, overall it is a good result for British farming.”
Richard Ashworth (ECR). – Mr President, this House has a duty to ensure that public food is safe and that the environment is responsibly managed, and we must take those responsibilities very seriously indeed. But on the other hand, we must also ensure that decisions we make are strictly proportionate to risk, not to hazard, and we must be aware of the consequences of those decisions.
In the case of glyphosate – a product which is endorsed by the Food Standards Agency as safe and for which there is no immediate substitute – for the industry to achieve the same effects, it would have to revert to more traditional mechanical operations. I could not disagree more with some of the comments which were made earlier about mechanical operations. We would have to revert to greater use of other agrochemicals and, in consequence, we would add considerably to the costs of an industry that is already under great difficulty. This House must be guided by the facts and common sense, not emotion. I urge the Commission to renew approval.