Another ten years of respite for glyphosate. The European Commission announced this Thursday that it would renew the authorization of this controversial herbicide until December 2033. The member states of the European Union have once again failed to agree on this issue.
Published on :
Glyphosate is the active substance present in several herbicides. Whether or not it is dangerous for health gives rise to lively debates.
To support its decision, the European executive highlights the report from a European regulator estimating that the level of risk does not justify banning glyphosate. The current authorization expires on December 15.
The twenty-seven had to reach what the EU calls a qualified majority, that is to say 55% of the member countries which represent 65% of the population of the Union. As during the first vote in committee, a month ago, no majority could be reached in one direction or the other within the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health, recalls our correspondent in Brussels, Pierre Benazet.
Consequently, the rule requires the Commission to take a decision and it is obliged to follow the scientific advice, namely, in this case, that of the Food Safety Agency. Contrary to the opinion of the WHO which considered glyphosate potentially carcinogenic, the European agency estimated this year that glyphosate did not present “an area of critical concern” except in its use to dry out a crop before harvest, which will now be banned.
The Commission therefore argues that it took the decision to which it was forced by reauthorizing glyphosate for ten years. But some accuse her of having actually made a choice, since she did not modify her proposal after the failure of the first vote. However, France, Germany and Italy, three of the largest agricultural countries, abstained.
France practices “at the same time”
France ” regret » that the European Commission did not take into account its proposals aimed at restricting the use of this controversial herbicide, indicated the French Ministry of Agriculture. “ France is not against the principle of molecule renewal », Writes the ministry. The leading European agricultural power wants to quickly reduce its use and regulate the use of the molecule, to limit its impacts, and replace it with other solutions whenever possible », Adds the ministry. The government therefore asked the Commission to regulate “ more strictly the uses of glyphosate » and suggested several proposals. “ France regrets that the latter did not retain them “, further indicates the ministry.
According to Benoît Biteau, MEP for Europe Écologie les Verts, joined by Romain Lemaresquier from the international editorial team, it is not up to the Commission to make such a decision
“ It’s a situation which is a bit paradoxical… The Commission, normally, is not the legislator, it is the Council and the Parliament… But we are in a procedure which means that the Commission has control. Regarding the Commission’s position, they take into account a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) but we consider that this report is not exhaustive, that this report does not give the exact interpretation what the Commission was able to do, particularly on the dangerousness of glyphosate. Obviously, that doesn’t suit us!
What I regret is the lack of audacity and courage of the Member States who have not managed to build a sufficient majority to reject glyphosate. We have Member States which, visibly, are telling us that they are opposed to a ten-year re-authorization of glyphosate, but who, in truth, have not expressed this in their votes.
An abstention is not opposition!
It is the ‘at the same time’ of this government. That is to say, they are able to say that they do not want glyphosate for ten years, but we do not know what that really means. Now we have a little idea, that meant that they didn’t want it for ten years, but that they were ready to extend it for a period other than ten years… if we didn’t want it. not over ten years, we had to vote against during this consultation which took place today. That’s not what they did at all! The communication is disastrous: we cannot say that we wanted to oppose glyphosate, say that the Commission is twisting the arm of the Europeans by imposing ten years of glyphosate and having abstained at the time of the vote! It’s illegible, this kind of positioning… »
Remember that last year, in France, experts from the pesticide victims’ compensation fund recognized a causal link between the malformations of a child and exposure to glyphosate of the mother during her pregnancy. The family was compensated and announced this in Octoberhoping to influence future decisions of the Commission…
Pressures from the agricultural sector
For Martin Dermine, director of the environmental NGO Pesticide Action Network (PAN) in Europe, this decision reveals the pressures exerted on institutions. “ Glyphosate is one of the keystones of intensive agriculture and there is enormous pressure, both on the agriculture ministries of the Member States and on the European Commission.
It has been shown that a majority of European citizens are exposed to glyphosate on a daily basis, whether in agricultural areas or also through pesticide residues in food. And other studies have shown that exposure to glyphosate through food generates a certain toxicity which can eventually lead to cancer.
For the environment, there are hundreds of studies which highlight the toxicity of glyphosate-based herbicides on the environment, particularly aquatic environments. So the decision of the (European) Commission today is scandalous. Clearly, its sole purpose is to promote and maintain industrial agriculture, which is toxic for citizens and the environment.”