No agreement on glyphosate renewal: for Slow Food it is time to ban this toxic substance

No agreement was reached today on the renewal of glyphosate’s license. According to diplomats, the Commission is now discussing with governments to see if reducing the period of the renewal could bring countries on board in supporting the relicensing of the weedkiller.

Slow Food urges EU governments to reject the license and ban glyphosate: doing otherwise would go against public opinion and disregard the successful European Citizens Initiative “Stop Glyphosate”. Indeed, the Stop Glyphosate coalition officially presented the results of the “Stop Glyphosate” European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to 28 European national authorities on July 3rd 2017, with 1.070.865 signatures collected.

Carlo Petrini, founder and president of Slow Food International, comments: “Today the voice of over a million EU citizens and of civil society has not been heard and respected. It is equally worrying that decision makers are not taking swift action to ban this carcinogenic substance. There is scientific evidence that 45% of European farming land contains traces of glyphosate and that toxic particles are transferred into the environment by wind and rain, polluting aquifers and damaging the natural defenses of plants, fungi and soil organisms. This is the proof of how the substance lingers in the soil and, in the end, our health: our rights are still subordinated to the interests of the multinationals in the agriculture industry. Producing without the use of glyphosate is already a reality, it’s called agroecology*. We could not be more convinced that removing this substance from our diet is an important step towards maintaining our health. And it can be done by changing the production model, adopting agroecological practices”.

Commercialized in 1974, in 2015 glyphosate was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’ Two months after the realease of IARC’s opinion, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) came to the opposite conclusion: that glyphosate is ‘unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.’ However, the European food safety authority (EFSA) based this recommendation on an EU report that copied and pasted analyses from a Monsanto study, with whole pages of the study being identical to passages found in an application submitted by Monsanto on behalf of the Glyphosate Task Force (GTF), an industry body led by the company.

* Agroecology is based on the conservation and management of agricultural resources through participation, traditional knowledge and adaption to local conditions. The use of agroecology as a scientific term dates back to the 1970s, but many of its solutions have been applied throughout history by rural communities around the world. This ancient body of knowledge has been systematically jettisoned or forgotten with the arrival of the so-called Green Revolution, which introduced a model of agriculture based on high levels of energy-rich external inputs, like the widespread use of synthetic agricultural chemicals and powerful machinery run on fossil fuels.

The decision comes following repeated failures to achieve a qualified majority at the Standing Committee and again at the Appeal Committee on June 24th 2016, both Committees representing Member States. On June 29th, 2016, the European Commission extended the approval of glyphosate pending today’s decision.

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