EU member states to vote on five-year weedkiller renewal next month
The European Commission said Friday it will ask EU countries to vote next month on a proposal to renew for five years instead of 10 the licence for the controversial weedkiller glyphosate.
The Commission, the bloc's executive arm, had originally recommended approving the herbicide's use for another decade from December 15 but experts balked this week amid growing uproar over the alleged dangers of its use.
"The Commission has submitted to the Member States a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for five years," Anca Paduraru, a commission spokeswoman, told AFP.
"The vote is scheduled to take place at the next committee (of experts) meeting on November 9," she added.
Glyphosate critics, led by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, are calling for an outright ban in Europe and on Monday activists handed the EU a petition signed by more than 1.3 million people backing such a move.
They point to a 2015 study by the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer that concluded it was "probably carcinogenic".
One of Europe's heaviest users, France, whose government has said it wants to phase out the herbicide, said along with Italy and Austria it would vote against renewing the glyphosate licence for 10 years. Belgium has joined their ranks.
The European Parliament, the EU's only elected body, on Monday said glyphosate should be renewed only until 2022 and banned thereafter, calling for a halt to non-professional use of the herbicide when its current licence expires on December 15.
The European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency both say glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, in line with a 2016 review carried out by WHO experts and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Monsanto, the US agro giant that makes weedkiller Roundup, insists glyphosate meets the standards required to renew its European licence.
The weedkiller deadlock in the EU has dragged on since June 2016, when its previous 15-year licence expired, and an 18-month extension was granted.
© 2017 AFP