As the discussions about glyphosate continue, farming unions are calling on European politicians to extend its licence for a 15-year period despite the fact that no agreement has yet to be reached over its reauthorisation.
The presidents of the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish farmers’ unions have joined forces to write a letter to MEPs ahead of this week’s European Union standing committee meeting (Nov 9) where the issue is to be debated.
Across the UK, farmers are following the ongoing debate on the re-approval of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, with mounting concern, according to the letter.
The farming unions want a full 15-year extension to the licence while environment campaigners are calling for a ban of the controversial chemical.
To date, no agreement has been reached over the reauthorisation of glyphosate which has prompted the farming unions to state that the decision – to be taken at EU level – should be based on science and evidence and not politics.
“In its conclusions, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.” This statement was supported by the Rapporteur Member State Germany in their subsequent report. This year, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said that scientific evidence “did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction.”
“Both EFSA and ECHA are agencies funded by the EU that operate independently of the three European legislative and executive institutions as well as Member States.
“The ongoing situation with the reauthorisation of glyphosate has eroded confidence and certainty in the regulatory system. We urge a return to evidence-led policy-making that is insulated from political bargaining and based on fair scientific risk assessment.”
The letter adds how European farmers need glyphosate to “provide a safe, secure and affordable food supply” while increasingly responding to consumer demand for greater environmental sensitivity.
Meanwhile, European industry group Copa Cogeca agrees the herbicide active substance should be reauthorised for 15 years, adding that only approving its licence for, say five years, would undermine EU institutions and put safe food supplies at risk.
Ahead of this week’s debate, Copa and Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen has expressed his “deep concern.”
“Glyphosate has been given a positive assessment by both the EFSA and the ECHA. There should be no question but to reauthorise its use for the full 15 years,” he said.
“Important decisions like this should not be based on emotion or politics. If it’s not renewed for the full term, all credibility in the EU institutions and decision-makers will be lost”.
“This widely used active substance contributes to feeding a growing population and to ensure agriculture conservation and fertile soils. Using glyphosate has many environmental benefits as farmers don’t need to till the soil which reduces soil erosion, keeps soil fertility and soil organic matters up and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”