S&D Euro MPs unanimously reiterated their rejection of the European Commission's announced intention to re-authorise glyphosate for 10 years. The S&Ds highlighted the evident lack of transparency in the classification process of the European agencies. The classification for glyphosate, the world's most widely used herbicidal active substance, was largely based on unpublished scientific evidence provided by the industry or supposedly independent scientific reviews sponsored by the industry.
S&D Euro MPs also demand that the precautionary principle be strictly applied in order to ensure better protection for the health of Europeans and that more transparency and public access to scientific studies be guaranteed.
S&D spokesperson on agriculture Eric Andrieu MEP, said:
“We must take into account the needs of agriculture, but the revelations brought to light through the Monsanto papers scandal and the ongoing litigation in the United States are changing the situation on the issue of glyphosate. Light must be shed on all this before there is any question of renewing the approval for this potentially carcinogenic product that could affect more than 500 million Europeans.
“In the light of these revelations and contrasting assessments on the safety of glyphosate, we cannot support the Commission's announced intention to re-authorise glyphosate for the next 10 years. It is unacceptable that the Commission ignores the voices of the 750,000 EU citizens who have already signed the European Citizens' Initiative demanding that the substance be banned.
“The announcement that the European Commission intends to re-authorise glyphosate for the next 10 years is a slap in the face for all these citizens and shows a complete lack of respect for European Citizens Initiatives, an instrument which, paradoxically, was created to strengthen trust in the European institutions by giving citizens a voice to bring important causes to the attention of European policy-makers."
S&D spokesperson on environment Miriam Dalli MEP, said:
“We want the decision on whether to renew the approval for glyphosate to be based on credible, publicly available and independent scientific data relating to carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity. It is imperative that the requirements for the disclosure of the scientific evidence used in the evaluation process are in accordance with the Plant Protection Products Regulation and case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
“Until we know the truth about the nature and weight of the scientific evidence used and until we know with certainty that glyphosate is safe for our citizens and our environment we cannot allow this substance to be freely sold on the EU market.”
S&D vice-president for sustainability Kathleen Van Brempt MEP, added:
“If we do not get a satisfactory answer from the European Commission, the Socialists and Democrats will ask for the establishment of a Parliamentary commission of inquiry or a special committee on this subject.
“We must ensure transparency, efficiency and democratic control throughout the authorisation process for pesticides.”
The Parliament's environment committee will table an oral question to the European Commission with a request for a debate on 12 June, followed by a joint hearing of the environment and agriculture committees of the European Parliament with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including Monsanto, the manufacturer of the product.
Note to editors:
Glyphosate is the most widely used broad-spectrum herbicide to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses. It was developed by the agro-chemical company Monsanto in 1970 and was put on to the market in 1974 under the trade name Roundup.
In 2015, glyphosate was classified as "probably carcinogenic in humans" by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
In November 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) maintained that "the substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (ie damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans".
In March 2017, the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) committee for risk assessment concluded that “the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen”.
Both the ECHA and the EFSA’s opinions contradict that of the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - the gold standard of cancer risk evaluation.
However, in March 2017, a case in the federal court in San Francisco has challenged the conclusion about the safety and the nature of the scientific evidence provided in this respect. The court unsealed documents that question the safety and the research practices of Monsanto.
More specifically, records of Monsanto’s internal emails and emails between the company and federal regulators suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research, which was later attributed to academics.
The European Union's current approval for glyphosate will expire within six months of the date on which the Commission receives the opinion of the European Chemicals Agency's Risk Assessment Committee, or on 31 December 2017 (whichever is the latest) under the Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 on plant protection.