Glyphosate, used in European agriculture for the next ten years

English Section / 17 noiembrie

Glyphosate, used in European agriculture for the next ten years

Versiunea în limba română

European farmers will be able to use glyphosate for the next 10 years, despite studies showing the harmful effects of this herbicide on the human body. The EU Council yesterday failed to obtain the qualified majority required to reject approval for the use of glyphosate and, under European law, the Commission will take a decision before 15 December 2023.

According to a press release issued yesterday by the Community Executive, based on the evaluations carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), it will renew the approval of the use of glyphosate for a period of 10 years, subject to certain new terms and restrictions. These restrictions include: the prohibition of use as a desiccant (with the intention of controlling the time of harvest or optimizing threshing); setting maximum limits for 5 impurities in glyphosate (ie in the manufactured material) - these limits are set to ensure that people and biodiversity are fully protected; the requirement that Member States pay particular attention to specific aspects when carrying out risk assessments (e.g. protection of small herbivorous mammals and non-target plants such as wild flowers) and establish risk mitigation measures to ensure that organisms non-target and environment are protected; establishing maximum application rates which must not be exceeded, unless the result of the risk assessment carried out for the specific uses for which authorization is sought demonstrates that a higher rate does not lead to unacceptable effects on small herbivorous mammals.

The European Commission claims that EFSA's assessment of the impact of glyphosate on human, animal and environmental health did not identify critical areas of concern that would prevent the renewal of approval.

The EU executive states: "The study carried out by EFSA took into account all available information, both mandatory regulatory studies required by EU legislation and an unprecedented body of published scientific literature. All studies presented in the public literature were evaluated based on their relevance and reliability for the risk assessment procedure. In the specific case of glyphosate, the applicants reviewed more than 16,000 published studies, of which approximately 2,000 were considered potentially relevant and were further assessed for their relevance, resulting in approximately 780 relevant publications after full-text review.

Regarding the studies that showed that glyphosate is carcinogenic, Brussels officials state: "On May 30, 2023, ECHA adopted an opinion that confirmed that glyphosate should not be classified as carcinogenic (nor mutagenic or toxic for reproduction). This opinion confirms ECHA's previous one published in 2017. This is a view shared by most major regulatory agencies around the world. EFSA also confirmed that glyphosate is not an endocrine disruptor. ECHA's opinion was taken into account in the peer review process by EFSA."

According to the cited source, Member States are responsible for the national authorization of plant protection products (PPP) containing glyphosate and will be able to restrict their use at national and regional level if they consider this necessary based on the outcome of risk assessments, taking into account considering in particular the need to protect biodiversity.

However, officials in Brussels say that if evidence emerges that the approval criteria will no longer be met, an EU-wide approval review can be initiated at any time and the Commission will take immediate action to amend or withdraw the approval of the use of glyphosate if this is scientifically justified.