'Renewal of glyphosate licence major farming setback,' Friends of the Earth Malta say

Majority of EU member states in favour of five-year weed-killer licence renewal, Malta votes against

Friends of the Earth Malta have called the five year renewal of glyphosate's license a
Friends of the Earth Malta have called the five year renewal of glyphosate's license a "missed opportunity"

Glyphosate will continue to be used for five more years, following a decision yesterday by the European Commission and the majority of European Union member states, in what environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Malta has described as "a missed opportunity to outlaw the herbicide and make European food and farming more sustainable and safer.

Malta joined Belgium, Greece, France, Hungary, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania and Austria in voting against the renewal of the chemical, best known by its Monsanto brand name Roundup. All other member states voted in favour, except for Portugal, which abstained.

Glyphosate, which studies identify as possible cause of cancer, is harmful to the environment and serves to support an industrial farming system that degrades the land, the NGO said in a press release today.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU’s safety agency, had given glyphosate a clean bill of health, but accusations have been levied against it of copying its safety arguments from a herbicide industry application, the NGO maintained, as it praised the Maltese government for being consistent on the issue, and for listening to what experts and individuals said about “freeing our fields, streets and gardens from the risky weed-killer”.

Friends of the Earth said that documents released in the United States have shown that Monsanto has been ghost-writing safety studies, secretly paying European scientists and improperly influencing regulatory authorities to give support to the continued use of the weed-killer.

Read More: European Parliament supports five-year glyphosate phase out for agricultural use

Although the approval is only for five years, the NGO remarked that the EU had the opportunity to ban the weed-killer and start farmers on the road towards decreasing their reliance on chemicals.

A resolution had been passed by the European Parliament in October rejecting the Commission’s proposal to renew the herbicide’s licence.

This followed a strong effort by MEPs from the Socialists and Democrats party, led by MEP Miriam Dalli as coordinator and spokesperson on environment and health, who pushed for a phasing out of glyphosate, while allowing farmers and industry sufficient time to adapt to the change.

More in Environment