People and the environment will continue to be put at risk
A qualified majority of EU member states has voted in favour of the Commission's proposal for the renewal of the approval of glyphosate for five years. Eighteen member states voted in favour, with 9 against and 1 abstention.
The Commission will now adopt the decision before the current authorisation expires on 15 December, as provided for in the applicable EU legislation.
A last-minute change of position by Germany permitted the vote to go in favour of glyphosate's renewal.
Germany's U-turn outweighed resistance from France and Italy, which both voted against.
The Commission ignored the Parliament's demand for a phase-out of glyphosate on farms by 2020 and restrictions in the meantime, including a ban on non-professional use and use in public parks and gardens.
The five-year extension will fail to protect people's health and the environment against the effects of glyphosate herbicides. In 2015 the World Health Organisation's cancer agency IARC classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.
The EU's food safety watchdog EFSA has given glyphosate a clean bill of health but has been accused of plagiarism in copying the main safety arguments from the industry's application. In addition, papers released in the USA reveal that the main producer of glyphosate, Monsanto, has been ghostwriting safety studies, has been covertly paying European scientists and has unduly influenced regulatory authorities to support the continued use of glyphosate.
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe commented on the vote, “Glyphosate damages nature, probably causes cancer, and props up an industrial farming system that is degrading the land we need to feed ourselves. Today’s approval, even if only for five years, is a missed opportunity to get rid of this risky weedkiller and start to get farmers off the chemical treadmill. Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and environment at risk, and is a major setback to more sustainable farming methods.”
Luis Morago, Avaaz campaign director, said, "Monsanto thought they’d win 15 years of glyphosate with their eyes closed, but had to fight tooth and nail for five with restrictions. Today, Germany bowed to that corporate pressure, ignoring their own citizens and the European Parliament to give the chemical industry an early Christmas present. But they are not going to be able to protect Monsanto for long from the overwhelming public opposition to poison on our food and playgrounds."
Genon K. Jensen, executive director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), said: “European governments failed European citizens and future generations today by granting the world’s most widely used weed killer a new license to harm our health and our environment, rather than setting a date to ban glyphosate once and for all.
“Ignoring well-founded concerns about glyphosate’s impacts on human health and the European evaluation process will further damage the image of the European Union at a time of already high distrust. Putting health first today and for future generations could make Europe a frontrunner of the transition towards a more sustainable agriculture and healthier planet, as well as reduce the risk of cancer, which causes 1.75 million deaths in Europe each year."
In favour 18 MS, 65,71%: BG, DE, CZ, DK, EE, IE, ES, LV, LT, HU, NL, PL, RO, SV, SK, FI, SE, UK
Against 9 MS, 32.26%: BE, EL, FR, HR, IT, CY, LU, MT, AT
Abstained 1 MS, 2.02%: PT