S&Ds win a big parliamentary victory to phase out glyphosate

man spraying glyphosate herbicide

Led by the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament today passed a resolution refusing the 10-year glyphosate licence renewal proposed by the European Commission. Instead, the European Parliament calls for an immediate ban for non-professional use and use in public parks, gardens and playgrounds, and a five-year phasing-out period for all agricultural use. After the five-year transition period, no product containing glyphosate should be on the EU market.

This substance is currently the most extensively used herbicide in the world and according to the World Health Organisation it is potentially carcinogenic and has hormone-disrupting consequences. Yet, glyphosate and its residues have been detected in water, soil, food and drinks, and non-comestible goods, as well as in human urine, posing a threat to citizens’ health.

Moreover, the unsealed internal correspondence by Monsanto, released in the context of litigation in the US brought by plaintiffs who claim to have developed cancer as a result of exposure to glyphosate, has shed doubts on the credibility of some Monsanto-sponsored studies. These were among the evidence used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for their evaluation of the safety of glyphosate.

S&D spokesperson on health and the environment, Miriam Dalli MEP, said:

“There is a growing unease over the lack of transparency in the EU classification process and many concerns over the safety of the herbicide. Many academics argue that due to its high genotoxicity and carcinogenicity, it should be immediately withdrawn from the market.

“It is proven that our citizens are exposed to glyphosate through food, weed killers and living close to sprayed areas. Glyphosate and its residues have been detected in water, soil, food and drinks, as well as in the human body.

“The S&Ds are seriously concerned by the widespread effects of glyphosate and we want the European Commission to take this issue seriously and to apply the precautionary principle. With this resolution, we are telling the European Commission that we want a total phase-out of glyphosate within the next five years.

“We want harmful pesticides to be replaced and we want to give time to farmers to adapt.”

Pavel Poc MEP, the S&D spokesperson on this file, added:

"Today we won an important battle for health and the environment and against multinational interests. It's a historic decision that reflects the calls from citizens and shows that the European Parliament is a truly democratic institution able to find a compromise.

“We found a good balance with a five-year phasing out period, so that EU farmers have the time to adapt before the new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) starting in 2020.”