EU Member States today postponed a vote on relicensing glyphosate in Europe.
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for an outright ban on the controversial
weedkiller, which would transform European agriculture making it greener and
publicly acceptable .
Adrian Bebb, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of
the Earth Europe said: "The European Commission needs to grab
this opportunity to make European farming safer and greener, which is what the
public wants. Allowing our fields, streets and parks to be drenched with this
risky weedkiller would be reckless and unnecessary. With clearly not enough political
support to continue its use, the time has come to ban glyphosate and get
farmers off the chemical treadmill."
European farming is currently heavily dependent on glyphosate – a
broad-spectrum "kill-all" weedkiller. Banning it would help farmers
shift away from using toxic chemicals, while producing safer food and reducing
the damage to the environment – both of which command a great deal of public
 During a meeting on May 18-19th, EU Member States will vote on whether
to renew the weedkiller for nine years. Both France and Germany are likely to
abstain, making the 'double majority' required for relicensing unlikely.
 Glyphosate has up to now been licensed for widespread use in the
environment from controlling weeds to spraying food crops directly before
harvest to supposedly speed up the drying of grains. Research
and common practice shows that other methods of weed control work such as
rotating crops, tilling and a better choice of crop varieties at no extra cost
A recent survey found that more than half of EU citizens "hold the view
that 'ensuring agricultural products are of good quality, healthy and safe'
should be one of the main objectives for the EU". Europeans,
Agriculture and the CAP, Special Eurobarometer 440, January 2016
 Serious questions remain over the health impacts of glyphosate after the
WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the
chemical as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in March 2015.
The FAO /WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) this week stated
that glyphosate remains safe if pesticide limits are not exceeded, but has so
far not backed this up with research on the constant low-level dose that most
citizens are exposed to. The independence
of this committee is also in question.
Glyphosate residues are found in many foods and drinks including bread and
beer. In 2013 Friends of the Earth Europe found traces in people's urine in the
18 countries tested.