The European Commission is readying a proposal for the controversial herbicide glyphosate to receive a full stamp of approval from member states and be re-authorized for use in the EU, according to a leaked draft document.
The document, in which the Commission refers to the recent conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on glyphosate’s safety, states that “it may be expected” that pesticide products based on the herbicide will continue to meet the safety requirements laid down in EU legislation.
The opinion could pave the way for the chemical to be approved for a standard 15-year period.
Developed in the 1970s, glyphosate is the active ingredient in the world’s most widely used pesticides, but critics say it has been linked to cancer and can be harmful to wildlife. It was last approved for use in the EU in 2017 — but only for five years — in a highly controversial process. That five-year license was extended for another 12 months in December last year.
Earlier this month, EFSA published a summary of its forthcoming conclusions that the use of glyphosate in agriculture does not pose “critical areas of concern” for human, animal or environmental health. Environmental groups and green lawmakers have called the findings “shocking” and accused the food safety watchdog of pro-industry bias.
Advocacy group Pesticide Action Network Europe, which obtained the leaked document, condemned the Commission’s move, which it said should not happen until EFSA publishes its full conclusions and all background documents. The former is expected before the end of July and the latter between the end of August and mid-October.
“The Commission’s ‘secretive’ renewal report on glyphosate aims to speed up reissuing its license while evading any public reaction,” said Angeliki Lysimachou of Pesticide Action Network Europe. “Despite the EFSA’s communication claiming ‘no critical areas of concern,’ alarming issues persist in the assessment of glyphosate regarding cancer, neurotoxicity, microbiome, and biodiversity.”