Efforts to have the pesticide relicensed for use in the EU have run into difficulties, and may not succeed before the June deadline
A brief exchange in the House of Lords has shed interesting light on the struggles that have beset efforts to have the pesticide glyphosate relicensed for use in the European Union for another 15 years.
The European Food Safety Authority has recommended relicensing, but EU officials recently postponed making a decision because of concerns over safety. This followed World Health Organization research that had classified the substance as a probable carcinogen.
Speaking for the Government, Baroness Chisholm said that the UK backed EFSA's conclusion that the pesticide did not pose a threat to human health, and therefore supported its continued use.
Food campaigner the Countess of Mar, pointed out that several EU countries, including France, the Netherlands and Sweden, have indicated that they will not back EFSA's conclusions. She added that the EU had looked only at glyphosate, whereas the WHO looked at the commercial formulation and found that some of the additives make it 10,000 times more powerful as a poison than the original glyphosate itself. The authorisation in this country, by the Chemical Regulations Directorate, is for the commercial formulation.
Lady Chisholm then explained that several EU members States have indicated that they would like to postpone any decision on glyphosate until after they have seen a report from the European Chemicals Agency, due to to come out next year. But if the relicensing vote does not take place before June this year, the chemical will not be re-licensed, and will be withdrawn over a period of time to allow manufacturers to replace it. This implies that while the arguments for and against rage on, glyphosate may simply run out of time.
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Sustain: Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.
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