A move to approve the continued use of the toxic herbicide glyphosate in Europe has become the topic of a high profile tussle involving member states, citizens groups, environmental campaigners and unions.
On 8 March, the European Union’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed postponed a decision on renewal of the herbicide’s approval when Italy joined France, the Netherlands and Sweden in opposing the move. The case against glyphosate, linked to cancer and other health effects, got a further boost on 22 March, when the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Food Safety and Public Health (ENVI) formally objected to the herbicide’s re-authorisation by the European Commission. The postposed vote of the EU standing committee will now take place in May.
Global food and farming union federation IUF is calling for ban on glyphosate. It said “additional pressure is needed to ensure that the European Commission does not cut a deal with the corporate agrochemical giants which would keep Europe locked into the deadly spiral of increasing pesticide applications for another fifteen years.”
In March 2015, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” It cited evidence in Canada, Sweden and the USA linking workers’ occupational exposure to glyphosate to increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other health effects.
IUF said the alternative to glyphosate isn’t other toxic pesticides like paraquat. It wants resources “made available to promote transition to non-chemical food production which sustains and enriches, rather than destroys, the food system on which we all depend.”