Glyphosate should be allowed in farming for another 10 years, Brussels says

The European Commission proposes that EU countries authorize the use of the controversial agrichemical glyphosate in farming for another 10 years, according to a document published Wednesday.

Glyphosate, a weed-killing chemical, is the most widely used pesticide in the world, but critics say it has been linked to cancer and can be harmful to wildlife. It was last approved for use in the EU in a highly controversial process in 2017, and the five-year license was extended for another 12 months last December.

The Commission indicated in July that glyphosate should receive a full stamp of approval from member countries and be re-authorized for use in the EU, following a risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority, which found “no critical areas of concern” from the use of the chemical in farming, but identified several data gaps.

The application to extend the chemical’s EU license came from a group of companies collectively known as the Glyphosate Renewal Group, which includes Bayer, Syngenta and Nufarm.

The group had sought a maximum 15-year authorization period. But the EU executive has proposed a 10-year period because of ongoing studies into glyphosate’s safety, a Commission official said.

“If evidence comes out in the next 10 years that challenges EFSA’s conclusions, the Commission can re-evaluate the approval,” the official said. “Studies can come out at any time.”

Member countries are expected to discuss the Commission’s proposal on Friday, followed by a vote on October 13.

French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau indicated last week that his country would not oppose the approval, despite his government’s commitment to phase out the chemical when it was last approved.

Luxembourg is the only EU country to have banned glyphosate, but the ban was lifted earlier this year after a court challenge by Bayer.