European Union renews glyphosate herbicide license for 5 years, ending 'heated debate'

European Union renews glyphosate herbicide license for 5 years, ending 'heated debate'

European Union renews glyphosate herbicide license for 5 years, ending 'heated debate'

Glyphosate, which the United Nations says causes cancer, is a key ingredient in Monsanto's weed-killer Roundup.

"Today's vote shows that when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making", European Union health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said.

The World Health Organization's cancer agency said in 2015 that the weed killer is "probably carcinogenic" to humans.

He pointed out that the Commission had originally proposed a 10-year renewal and said that the reduced licence offered "five years in which we will work to look for alternatives". Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and Romania, joined the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Latvia Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom at the positive vote to the license renewal.

The Green party called it "a dark day for consumers, farmers and the environment". European Union nations long failed to find a compromise amid conflicting health reports.

However, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has said that there isn't enough scientific evidence now available to prove that glyphosate causes cancer, with the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) arriving at the same conclusion in November 2015.

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"The guidelines maintained by [the European Chemicals Agency] would easily classify this compound as a group 1B carcinogen and, as such, it should be banned for use in Europe", IARC advisor Chris Portier said following the decision.

The row over glyphosate has raised questions over modern farming techniques, regulatory capture and scientific independence, as well as the safety of ubiquitous pesticides. Ben & Jerry's recently introduced a new line of organic ice cream, in a bid to sate public concern. The Papers include a host of documents from U.S. regulators and United States scientists, as well as thousands of pages of internal Monsanto emails, memos and other documents. According to the letter, the study was co-authored by a former Monsanto employee. The approval, even if only for five years, is a missed opportunity to get rid of this risky weedkiller and start to get farmers off the chemical treadmill.

Monsanto argues that, as a no-till system, glyphosate lowers carbon emissions and protects soil quality. Monsanto declined to comment.

Farmers backed the licensing of products containing glyphosate.

The UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU) has welcomed the fact its licence has been renewed.

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