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MEPs back glyphosate

MEPs have defied a majority of Europeans who want to see the herbicide glyphosate banned in agriculture by voting in favour of its reauthorisation.

The non-binding resolution was passed on Wednesday and represents a victory for farmers’ groups who have campaigned against restrictions on the use of glyphosate. However, the resolution comes with the caveats that the approval should be reviewed after seven years and that sales to non-professional users should be restricted. It also calls for limits on the pre-harvest use of glyphosate on crops.

The vote was held just days after a poll by YouGov Germany showed that almost two thirds of the European public support a total ban on the popular agricultural chemical that has been labelled by the World Health Organisation as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), on the other hand, has concluded it is unlikely to pose a public health risk.

Support for a ban was most strong in Italy where 76% of people surveyed said they believed the EU should regulate against the use of glyphosate. The UK public was less decisive with 56% supporting a ban, while 8% were against a ban and 33% said they did not know one way or the other.

The European Parliament has also called on the European Commission to carry out a fresh review into glyphosate’s toxicity focused on possible endocrine-disruptive properties as well as its carcinogenicity.

Member state experts will vote on a new Commission proposal in May. If they fail to reach a consensus the Commission itself will determine the future fate of glyphosate.

For a detailed briefing on glyphosate download April’s Footprint magazine.