EU Formally Extends Glyphosate Registration

14.12.2017 -

The European Commission’s five-year extension of registration for the controversial herbicide active ingredient glyphosate took effect on Dec. 12. The existing license had been due to expire on Dec. 15, before the Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed agreed on Nov. 27 to renew it.

Glyphosate remains controversial, however. France has vowed not to allow crop protectants containing the chemical to be used on its soil after the end of three years, and sentiment in Germany remains negative.

At the same time as finalizing the glyphosate extension, the Commission announced new proposals to take effect from January next year that it said it would increase transparency of scientific studies supporting approval of such controversial substances.

The proposals were made in reaction to an EU citizens' petition to stop glyphosate use, signed by more than 1.3 million people but not recognized as grounds not to extend the registration. Along with a ban, the petition also called for formulation of overall reduction targets for the use of pesticides in the EU as a step toward a total ban on some of them.

Reportedly among the new proposals is a provision that details of assessments as to the safety of such products should be made "publicly available.” EU health commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said 6,000 pages of scientific studies had been made public but this apparently was not enough.

Studies by both the European Food Safety Agency EFSA and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) downplayed any threat to health posed by glyphosate when applied as directed.

Meanwhile, dissension in Berlin over German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt casting the deciding vote in renewing glyphosate’s registration, ignoring the position of Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, continues.

Three political parties, Social Democrats, Greens and the Left, have now called for a phase-out of the chemical. Schmidt and Hendricks are also preparing to lock horns over whether to lift EU restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides. France is seeking a complete ban.