Heated debate at the EU on glyphosate issue

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The sustainable use of pesticides and ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance were debated by Agriculture MEPs and Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on Monday evening.

The debate on pesticides soon turned into a heated discussion on next steps for glyphosate, a widely used but highly controversial plant protection product, whose authorisation for use in the EU expires on 15 December 2017.

While some MEPs stressed that the glyphosate must be phased-out, citing concerns over its potential carcinogenicity, others rejected what they called scaremongering and insisted that the EU’s decision must be science-based and for the sake of food security must not tie farmers’′ hands.

Commissioner Andriukaitis suggested to look at scientific arguments and apply a “common sense approach” rather than to “create fear”. There is no scientific proof that glyphosate is carcinogenic, he said and dismissed what he called “conspiracy theories” about multinationals’ efforts to influence EU decisions.

In a separate debate, MEPs discussed with Commissioner Andriukaitis EU’s action plan to fight antimicrobial resistance and ways to improve its implementation all across the continent.

In a non-binding resolution adopted on 24 October, Parliament called on a glyphosate phase-out, with full ban by end 2022. On 20 November the Parliament’s Environment, Industry, Petitions and Agriculture Committees will hold a hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”.

Members of the Agriculture and Environment Committees discussed with experts in a public hearing on 11 October the EU risk assessment of the herbicide glyphosate and alleged influence of industry representatives on its conclusions in the light of the so-called “Monsanto Papers” leaks.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) concluded that glyphosate is safe, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified it as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.