Glyphosate backed by European Parliament, but not for parks

Glyphosate should not be approved for use in or close to public parks, public playgrounds, public gardens or home use, say MEPs, as they recommend glyphosate registration for a further seven years.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Given concerns about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, the EU Commission should renew its marketing approval for just seven years, instead of 15, and for professional uses only, the European Parliament said in a resolution voted on 13 April.

And they called for "a ban on all uses of glyphosate-based herbicides in private and public green areas, including spraying in and around public parks, playgrounds and gardens".

MEPs called for an independent review and the publication of all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate.

The European Commission non-binding resolution was passed by 374 votes to 225, with 102 abstentions. The Commission should not approve any non-professional uses of glyphosate, say MEPs.

Pro and anti-glyphosate campaigners both claimed victory.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said the result was "welcome news", adding that it is "fundamental that the agricultural sector is able to use glyphosate responsibly".

The Greens said restrictions on use in parks and playgrounds and the cut from 15 to seven years was a win.

The Commission should also reassess its approval of glyphosate in the light of its pending classification by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), under separate legislation, they add.

The resolution calls on the Commission to table a new draft in order to better address the sustainable use of herbicides containing glyphosate and also to launch an independent review of the overall toxicity and classification of glyphosate, based not only on data relating to carcinogenicity but also on possible endocrine-disruptive properties.

MEPs urged the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority to "immediately disclose all the scientific evidence that has been a basis for the positive classification of glyphosate and the proposed re-authorisation, given the overriding public interest in disclosure". 

MEPs also condemned as "unacceptable" the use of glyphosate in a farming practice known as "green burndown", the killing of the actual crop plant prior to harvest in order to accelerate ripening and facilitate harvesting. 

National experts sitting in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Phytopharmaceuticals Section) will vote to adopt or reject the Commission proposal by qualified majority in May. If there is no such majority, it will be up to the European Commission to decide.

The full EU Parliament voted on the recommendation of the Environment Committee (who called for the renewal to be rejected, at least until there had been an independent review othe EFSA assessment) at the April 11-14 plenary session in Strasbourg.

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) will vote to adopt the Commission proposal (that glyphosate be relicensed) by qualified majority at their May 18-19 meeting.

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