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

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli, S&D spokesperson on health and environment, says farmers require time to adapt to future glyphosate ban

Maltese Labour MEP Miriam Dalli championed the call for a phase out of glyphosate
Maltese Labour MEP Miriam Dalli championed the call for a phase out of glyphosate

The European Parliament today passed a resolution rejecting a European Commission proposal to renew the glyphosate license for the next ten years.

The approved resolution follows months of work by the S&D MEPs, led by Maltese Labour MEP Miriam Dalli as coordinator and spokesperson on environment and health. Dalli has pushed for a phase out of glyphosate, whilst allowing farmers and industry enough time to adapt to the change.

Dalli has also spoken vociferously against the lack of transparency, questionable scientific reliability and scientific independence in view of the doubts cast on the validity of the current studies.

Glyphosate is currently the most used herbicide in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, this herbicide is potentially carcinogenic and has hormone-disrupting consequences. Yet, glyphosate and its residues have been detected in water, soil, food and drinks, and non-comestible goods, as well as in human urine, posing a threat to citizens’ health.

The European Parliament called for the immediate ban for non-professional uses and uses in public parks, gardens and playgrounds, and a five-year phasing out for all agricultural use.

It is asking that after the five-year transition period, no product containing glyphosate is placed on the EU market.

“There is a growing unease over the lack of transparency in the EU classification process and many concerns over the safety of the herbicide,” Dalli said. “It is proven that our citizens are exposed to glyphosate through food, weed killers and living close to sprayed areas. Glyphosate and its residues have been detected in water, soil, food and drinks, as well as in the human body.”

Internal correspondence by agribusiness giant Monsanto - released in light of the litigation in the US by plaintiffs who claim to have developed cancer as a result to exposure to glyphosate - has shed doubts on the credibility of some studies sponsored by Monsanto.

These same studies were among the evidence used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for their evaluation of the safety of glyphosate.

Many academics argue that due to its high genotoxicity and carcinogenicity, glyphosate should be immediately withdrawn from the market. Dalli argued that whilst pushing for a ban on harmful pesticides, farmers and the industry should also be given time to adjust to the change.

“S&D is seriously concerned by the widespread effect of glyphosate and we want the European Commission to take this issue seriously and to apply the precautionary principle. With this resolution, we are telling the European Commission that we want a total phase out of glyphosate within the next five years,” she said.

Dalli described today’s vote as an important win for health and the environment.

More in Europe