EU Renews Glyphosate License for One Year

06.12.2022 - The European Commission has provisionally renewed the license of the herbicide active ingredient glyphosate until the end of 2023. Earlier this year, the EU governing body had asked all member states to approve a one-year extension.

Authorization of the controversial chemical had been due to expire on Dec. 15 this year, but the Commission said it would defer a decision to renew it for a full two years.

The aim is to give the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) more time to review a risk assessment that the authority said cannot be completed until at least July 2023. Without EFSA’s opinion, the Commission said it has an insufficient basis to proceed with a longer extension.  

The draft assessment, which runs to around 11,000 pages, was compiled for the Commission by a special committee of national authorities of France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden — known as the Assessment Group of Glyphosate (AGG) — on the basis of evidence submitted by the companies seeking renewed market approval.

Building on EFSA’S opinion, the task of reviewing the classification of glyphosate under the Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation will fall to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Last May, ECHA concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic but can cause serious eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life.

The classification of chemicals under CLP is based solely on hazardous properties and doesn’t assess the likelihood that exposure to the substance can cause diseases such as cancer – as US lawsuits against Bayer, current owner of the former Monsanto Roundup franchise, have claimed. The analysis of safe exposure levels is part of the risk assessment process led by EFSA. 

Glyphosate was last reapproved in the EU in 2017, for five years. In 2019, at least three European countries, Germany, France and Austria announced plans to ban the substance entirely or in some agricultural applications.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist