The European Commission has granted a ten-year extension to the license for the use of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, after member states failed to reach a consensus on the proposal once again. The decision comes after a four-year re-analysis of glyphosate’s safety and effectiveness, which considered a vast amount of scientific data. Both previous assessments did not identify any critical issues with the herbicide’s use.
The earlier proposal by the Commission to extend glyphosate’s license until 2033 was rejected by the Appeals Committee due to lack of support from at least 55% of member states or 15 countries representing at least 65% of the EU population. However, following this failure, the Commission decided to make its own decision. The current license expires on December 15th, 2023.
Comitology is an implementing act that allows member states to exercise control over decisions made by the Commission through special committees composed of representatives from governments and chaired by a representative of the Commission. In accordance with comitology rules, if no qualified majority is reached on the Board of Appeal before expiration of approval, then the Commission must make a decision before that date – as stated by the Commission. They also mentioned that EFSA has not identified critical areas that would prevent renewal of approval.
Glyphosate remains highly controversial due to conflicting scientific opinions regarding its safety for human health and environment. While IARC classifies it as probably carcinogenic to humans, other organizations such as EFSA and ECHA maintain it is safe for use when applied correctly. The agrochemical industry strongly supports continued use of glyphosate in farming practices.
The Green Caucus in European Parliament urged caution regarding glyphosate’s use and called on commissioners to consider convincing scientific evidence against its health risks for humans and nature while taking into account legitimate concerns raised by many Europeans citizens who are opposed to prolonging its use without proper assessment or monitoring mechanisms in place.