Step nearer victory in Garden Organic’s glyphosate campaign

MEPs have urged the EU Commission to re-authorise the herbicide glyphosate, found in Roundup, for just seven years rather than the original 15, and for professional use only. This is good news for Garden Organic who has led the campaign, on behalf of the charity’s members and supporters, to oppose the re-licensing of this herbicide.
Hoeing the veg patch

The charity has already sent a letter, counter-signed by over 3,000 members and supporters, to the EU's Health and Food Safety Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, pushing for a 'No vote' to the relicensing.

“Given concerns about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, used in many farm and garden applications, the EU Commission should renew its marketing approval for just 7 years, instead of 15, and for professional uses only,” the EU Parliament says in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs call for an independent review and the publication of all the scientific evidences that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate.

The non-binding resolution was passed 374 votes to 225, with 102 abstentions.

National experts sitting in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animal Food and Feed (Phytopharmaceuticals Section) will vote to adopt or reject the Commission proposal by qualified majority in May. If there is no majority, it will then be up to the European Commission to decide.

Although recommending a seven year re-authorisation may not seem like good news for our campaign, the resolution includes a number of significant restrictions to use of glyphosate. The following were included in the resolution:

  1. Glyphosate should not be approved for use in or close to public parks, public playgrounds and public gardens.

  2. The Commission should not approve any non-professional uses of glyphosate.

  3. The Commission should reassess its approval of glyphosate in the light of its pending classification by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), under separate legislation.

  4. The Commission and the European Food Safety Authority should immediately disclose all the scientific evidence that has been a basis for the positive classification of glyphosate and the proposed re-authorisation, given the overriding public interest in disclosure.

  5. MEPs condemn as “unacceptable” the use of glyphosate in a farming practice known as “green burndown”. This is the killing of the actual crop plant prior to harvest in order to accelerate ripening and facilitate harvesting. This practice leads to increased human exposure.

  6. The resolution calls on the Commission to table a new draft in order to better address the sustainable use of herbicides containing glyphosate and also to launch an independent review of the overall toxicity and classification of glyphosate, based not only on data relating to carcinogenicity but also on possible endocrine-disruptive properties.

James Campbell, Garden Organic Chief Executive, said; “Although we would ideally like to see an overall ban on the use of this herbicide, Garden Organic welcomes this news as a step in the right direction and an indication of just what can be achieved if the public and organisations like Garden Organic speak out.

“What will be interesting is how the Commission interpret the recommendation to ‘not approve any non-professional uses’,” continues James, “as this could have a major impact on the licensing and selling of the herbicide for home growers.”

Garden Organic will continue to fight against this herbicide, not just by using our power to lobby the powers that be, but also by sharing our knowledge on organic alternatives.

James Campbell, Garden Organic Chief Executive