Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, will only be relicensed in Europe if a majority of European Union (EU) member states provide sufficient support, said European Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis.
“I wanted to make clear that the Commission has no intention to reapprove this substance without the support of a qualified majority of member states. This is and will remain a shared responsibility,” Andiukaitis told reporters on Monday.
A qualified majority means 16 member states must vote in favor of the proposal with support coming from countries representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population.
EU countries have consistently failed to vote in a majority bloc in favor of or against relicensing glyphosate in Europe. In the last vote, France and Germany abstained from voting, which forced the European Commission to extend the EU glyphosate license for a period of 18 months.
That may not be the case when the next vote happens, however. Recent allegations of Monsanto employees ghostwriting studies and collusion with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official could sway some EU member states to vote against relicensing glyphosate.
A vote on the glyphosate license renewal will likely take place later this year.
European Committee of Experts Discuss Extending Glyphosate License
According to Reuters, a committee of experts will gather to discuss a proposed 10-year extension on the European license for glyphosate on Wednesday. In March, the European Commission proposed the 10-year extension after the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) issued a report on glyphosate, concluding the chemical should not be classified as a carcinogen.
The ECHA report was a head-scratcher for many because, in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in its report on glyphosate that the chemical is a probable human carcinogen.
The discrepancy between the agencies prompted four members of the EU Parliament to write a letter to United States District Judge Vince Chhabria, who is overseeing litigation involving U.S. plaintiffs who allege exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The letter asked Judge Chhabria for access to a number of key deposition transcripts and other relevant court documents to help “untangle the scientific arguments surrounding glyphosate.”
In addition to invoking ECHA, the letter also references another EU agency, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic for humans in November of 2015. The EFSA report also caused some controversy following an article from the Corporate Europe Observer, which reported that the pesticide industry was allowed advance access to EFSA’s safety assessment of glyphosate:
“Shortly before the agency revealed its 2015 safety assessment for the world’s most widely-used herbicide, industry representatives were asked to file redaction requests and were even able to edit the documents at the very last minute.”
Since the Corporate Europe Observer report, EFSA has denied that it did anything wrong, saying it is part of the agency’s normal process to allow industry advance access. It should be noted that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were denied access to the report in order to “protect the integrity of the decision-making process.”