Roundup Gets a 5-Year Renewal in Europe, Despite Health Concerns

After a protracted delay, European ministers have decided to renew the license for one of the world’s leading weedkillers — despite significant health concerns.

Monsanto’s Roundup is a major staple of modern agriculture, but for more than a year now, Europe has faced deadlock as officials debated whether to extend the weedkiller’s license.

Nevertheless, in a vote just weeks before the already extended 18-month license was to run out, European powers have voted to again continue the weedkiller’s license. 18 EU member states voted in favor, nine voted against and one member state abstained. Ultimately, it was Germany that had the deciding vote to proceed with renewal after previously abstaining on the vote.

This vote officially extends glyphosate’s license for five years, meaning the product will remain on European shelves, even though individual European MPs voted in parliament against extending the license.

Glyphosate controversy: science or politics?

European farming associations are not pleased to have only a five-year extension, but they claim that this decision is a boon for scientific policymaking. And they quickly point out that Europe has now carried out two separate reviews of glyphosate, both times finding it safe.

IFA President Joe Healy stated:

Glyphosate is an integral part of the modern farming practice in both tillage and grassland production. It is a key arable crop management tool that allows farmers to produce an abundance of safe, affordable, quality food. Its judicious use allows us to adopt minimum tillage practices, thus preventing soil erosion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.

The farming industry has expressed a major concern that a refusal to relicense glyphosate will mean relying on more toxic weedkillers with higher risk to consumers. While some of these claims are clearly attempts at scaremongering, it’s undeniable that without glyphosate-based weedkillers farmers would have to find alternatives.

As to glyphosate’s safety, questions remain.

Even though Europe’s Chemical Agency deemed glyphosate to be safe, World Health Organization’s IARC review published in 2015 listed glyphosate as a probable endocrine disruptor.

A group of highly respected scientists then signed an open letter condemning the way in which European bodies have handled scientific evidence. They claim that the government twice ignored scientific studies showing potential issues with glyphosate and relied on partially redacted studies that came from industry sources. This is not to suggest that those studies were necessarily biased, but rather that they were arguably of lesser quality than those considered by the IARC.

IARC representatives have reiterated this point in their reaction to Monday’s vote. The Guardian reports:

Chris Portier, an advisor to IARC in its glyphosate decision, told the Guardian that, in his view, the EU decision was scientifically unsound.

“The guidelines maintained by ECHA [the European chemical agency] would easily classify this compound as a group 1B carcinogen and, as such, it should be banned for use in Europe,” he said.

Both sides have accused the other of conflicts of interest have been made by both sides, highlighting the challenges of policymaking in this area. Nevertheless, it is public confidence that may eventually be the deciding factor.

The fight over glyphosate is not over yet

This five-year license extension is far short of the 15-year extension sought by the farming industry, so we will likely see a repeat of this protracted process.

With glyphosate exposure in food on the rise, and a significant body of scientists and members of the public continuing to voice concern, it is unlikely that the late November vote by European officials will be the last word on Monsanto’s weedkiller.

Photo Credit: Global Justice Now/Flickr

47 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Lesa D
Lesa D6 months ago

why?

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner7 months ago

Just ignore Bill Arthur. He would argue for cyanide in baby food as long as it benefited the fat terrorist CEO's of criminal corporations.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner7 months ago

Government terrorists strike again.

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Marigold A
Past Member 7 months ago

Concerns despite hundreds of safety and efficacy tests and studies.

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Angelflowers D
.7 months ago

Disgusting, disgusted, disgust, any other words for it?

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Elaine W
Elaine W7 months ago

Alarming warnings.

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Winn A
Winn A7 months ago

:-(

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JT Smith
Past Member 7 months ago

I'm wondering when the American medical complex will finally work out that the reason so many people are allergic to foods to an extent that didn't exist even 20 years ago is because people aren't suddenly allergic to nuts, wheat, etc, but they ARE allergic to all the chemicals crap from corporations like Monsanto, et al, that nuts, wheat, etc, are now constantly being drowned in.

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Paulo R
Paulo Reeson7 months ago

terrible decision that will bite them in the end. ty

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