Although glyphosate is one of the most controversial herbicides among environmentalists in the EU, the European Commission has decided to extend the approval of glyphosate for another ten years.
The approval comes after 55% of Member States, representing 65% of the EU population, gave their consent. France, Germany and Italy, the three largest agricultural countries, abstained. The current license expires on December 15th.
In a statement released in Brussels, the European Commission said: “The Commission, in cooperation with EU Member States, will extend the authorization of glyphosate for a period of ten years, subject to a number of conditions and deadlines of the new regime“.
Unless an absolute majority is achieved, current rules force the European Commission to make a decision that everyone else must follow. In this case, the approval of the herbicide was facilitated by the Food Safety Agency, which, contrary to the World Health Organization (WHO), which considers it to be carcinogenic, has indicated that glyphosate is not “critical problem area“except when used to dry crops before harvest.”
This clause was one of the changes in the existing authorization, which, from December 2023, prohibits its use for drying plants before harvest and requires certain measures to protect non-target organisms.
France’s position on the renewal of glyphosate in the EU
France is not against renewing the authorization for the use of glyphosate in the EU, said the French Ministry of Agriculture. However, the leading European agricultural power made it clear: “would like to quickly limit and regulate the use of this herbicide, reduce its impact and, if possible, replace it with other solutions“.
During the debate, the French government called on the Commission to “Tighter restrictions on the use of glyphosateand presented several suggestions. “France regrets that the Commission has not adopted these proposals“, concluded the ministry.
What is Glyphosate?
It is a broad-spectrum herbicide designed to kill grasses and shrubs, especially perennials. One of the most controversial issues is that it is absorbed through the leaves and not the roots. This means it can be sprayed on leaves, injected into stems and trunks, or sprayed on tree stumps as a forestry herbicide.
Last year, experts at the French Compensation Fund for Pesticide Victims found a causal link between birth defects and maternal exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy. The family received compensation and a notice in October in the hope that it would influence future decisions by the commission.
Environmentalists are up in arms
“Glyphosate is one of the cornerstones of intensive agriculture and the pressure on both the agriculture ministries of the member states and the European Commission is enormous.“Martin Dermine explained to the French radio station Rfi.
The director of the non-governmental Pesticide Action Network (PAN) in Europe added: “It has been shown that the majority of Europeans are exposed to glyphosate on a daily basis, including in agricultural land and through pesticide residues in food. “Other studies have confirmed that the effects of dietary glyphosate cause some toxicity, and in the long term it can cause cancer.”
Dermmin condemns that the European Commission’s only aim is to “Promoting and maintaining industrial agriculture, which is toxic to people and the environment“Despite criticism, glyphosate will remain the herbicide of choice in the EU over the next ten years.
responsibility of every government
However, the decision about the use of glyphosate at the national level remains in the hands of individual governments.
Governments must also establish maximum application levels based on these risk assessments and risk mitigation measures to ensure the protection of non-target organisms and the environment.
With information from: