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 support [2,3].
NOTES 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 to farmers.
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.