Published: 02/09/2016
On June 28, the European Commission yielded to the agrochemical lobby and reauthorized the continued use of the herbicide glyphosate (best known commercially as Monsanto’s Roundup) despite mounting evidence of the harm it inflicts on public health, workers and the environment.  The Commission acted unilaterally in the absence of a ‘qualified majority’ of EU governments and in the face of opposition from trade unions and civil society groups. The renewed authorization, which imposes few significant restrictions on glyphosate use at EU level, is valid for up to 18 months pending a review by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), where unions and public health campaigners will now be directing their efforts.

While the battle over glyphosate renewal was heating up, the Commission introduced proposed criteria on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC, chemicals which disrupt the human hormone system) which would seriously restrict efforts to limit the use of pesticides known for their endocrine disrupting properties.

And now the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, whose industry-backed report served as the basis for the Commission’s push for glyphosate renewal, has introduced a protocol to EU pesticide Regulation 1107/2009 which would allow for a ‘derogation’ permitting the continued application of a group of highly toxic pesticides otherwise banned under the terms of the regulation (for more detail see the statement by PAN Europe).

These measures confirm the EU’s ongoing retreat from the precautionary principle, sustainable agricultural practices (under which pesticide applications are a last resort) and a hazards-based approach to protecting worker and consumer health and the environment.