MEPs propose glyphosate phase-out, with full ban by end 2020

Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that contains glyphosate for sale in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that contains glyphosate for sale in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

MEPs are proposing that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, be phased out with a full ban by 2020.

Environment Committee MEPs are backing a full ban on glyphosate-based herbicides by December 2020 and immediate restrictions on the use of the substance.

The Environment and Public Health Committee opposes the European Commission’s proposal to renew the controversial herbicide licence for 10 years.

And, instead, MEPs say the EU should draw up plans for a phase-out of the substance, starting with a complete ban on household use and a ban in use for farming when biological alternatives (i.e. “integrated pest management systems”) work well for weed control.

MEPs say that glyphosate should be completely banned in the EU by 15 December 2020, even with the necessary intermediate steps.

The EU risk assessment process of renewing the substance’s licence was mired in controversy, as the UN cancer agency on the one side and EU food safety and chemicals agencies on the other pointed to different conclusions regarding its safety.

Moreover, the release of the so-called “Monsanto Papers” - internal documents from the company, shed doubt on the credibility of some studies used in the EU evaluation on glyphosate safety, say MEPs.

The EU’s authorisation procedure, including the scientific evaluation of substances, should be based only on published, peer-reviewed and independent studies commissioned by competent public authorities, MEPs say. They say that EU agencies should be beefed up in order to allow them to work in this way.

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They also reiterate that all the scientific evidence that has been the basis for the positive classification of glyphosate and the proposed re-authorisation should be disclosed, given the overriding public interest.

The non-binding resolution was approved by 39 votes to nine, with 10 abstentions.

The full House is to vote on the resolution on 24 October in Strasbourg. EU Member States will vote on a Commission proposal to renew the marketing authorisation of glyphosate the following day.

A European Citizen’s initiative calling for a ban on the herbicide reached more than a million signatures in less than a year and will trigger a public hearing in Parliament in November.

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