The Guardian, 4 March 2016


A farmer sprays pesticides on to crops in France. The World Health Organisation has linked glyphosate to cancer. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty


Vote to approve relicensing of ingredient in herbicides including Roundup had been due on Monday, but it might be postponed

A rebellion by several EU countries could scupper plans by the European commission to approve the relicensing of a weedkiller linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The vote to relicense glyphosate, a key ingredient in herbicides such as Monsanto’s multibillion-dollar brand Roundup, had been scheduled at a two-day meeting of experts from the EU’s 28 member states, which begins on Monday.

But officials are now saying that they may postpone the vote rather than lose it, raising the prospect of a legal limbo for glyphosate, the licence for which runs out in June.

France, the Netherlands and Sweden have all said they will not support an assessment by the European food safety authority (Efsa) that glyphosate is harmless.

That ruling ran counter to findings by the WHO’s cancer agency that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”, causing a bitter row over scientific methodology and industry influence.

The Swedish environment minister, Åsa Romson, said: “We won’t take risks with glyphosate and we don’t think that the analysis done so far is good enough. We will propose that no decision is taken until further analysis has been done and the Efsa scientists have been more transparent about their considerations.”

An Efsa panel based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe enough for a new lease of life on six industry-funded studies that have not been fully published.


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