EUROPE – In a move laden with controversy, the European Commission is set to renew the approval of glyphosate, a widely used herbicide, for another 10 years.

The decision follows an unsuccessful vote by member states at the Appeal Committee, mirroring a similar outcome in October at the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food, and Feed (SCOPAFF).

The EU Commission faces a crucial deadline, needing to make a decision before December 15, 2023, when the current approval period expires. However, the substance’s renewal comes with certain conditions and restrictions.

The vote at the Appeal Committee revealed a stark division among member states. Denmark, Spain, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, and Portugal voted for renewal, while Austria, Croatia, and Luxembourg opposed it.

Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy abstained from the vote, emphasizing the complexity of achieving consensus on the contentious herbicide.

Industry and environmental advocates clash

Copa and Cogeca, representing farmers and agri-cooperatives in Europe, urged the EU Commission to heed the science-based conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), advocating for reauthorization.

They emphasized the absence of an equivalent alternative to glyphosate and the potential complications for agricultural practices, especially soil conservation, in its absence.

On the opposing side, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) called for the withdrawal of the renewal proposal.

The group cited the inability to secure a member state majority for a 10-year renewal, arguing that the Commission’s persistence is unacceptable in light of scientific evidence on the substance’s health impacts.

HEAL, joined by over 100 organizations, wrote to Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the EU Commission, urging her to intervene and prevent the renewal of glyphosate.

The clash between industry advocates and environmental health proponents underscores the complexities and competing interests surrounding the herbicide.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.