Europe: EU postpones decision on Glyphosate

The standing committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed (PAFF), an organization composed by representatives of all EU Member States and presided by a European Commission representative, which delivers opinions on draft measures that the Commission intends to adopt, has postponed its decision to extend the license for herbicide glyphosate in its meeting this week. The health experts said they will vote on the issue later this year.

The issue became relevant for beer drinkers when scientists found critical amounts of glyphosate, which is used to kill weeds that compete with crops, in beer. Recently researchers of the Munich Environmental Institute gave the all-clear for German beer when they found 80% less of the broad-spectrum herbicide in 14 popular German beers than the year before (, 25.8.2017).

The use of glyphosate is highly controversial. In 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) said that glyhosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.  One year later a co-analysis by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation found that the chemical was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet”.

In June last year, the extension of the controversial herbicide glyphosate approval in the EU had failed and only a provisional approval was given for the following 18 months. In mid-May this year the EU Commission announced that it would enter again into discussions with the memberstates on extending the authorization by another ten years.

Meanwhile, a qualified majority of EU Member States (55% with at least 65% of the EU’s population), which is needed for an extension of the license, becomes more and more unlikely. France, Sweden, Italy and The Netherlands have raised concerns and even a positive German vote in favor of Glyphosate becomes less likely after the recent elections.

A citizens' initiative against the controversial weed killer has collected 1.1 million valid signatures with 670,000 signatures coming alone from Germany. The initiative will now be allowed to voice its concerns in front of the European Parliament.

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