EU member states are engaged in a tug-of-war trying to determine whether the license for glyphosate should be renewed. While each member state gets to decide whether or not to use a certain pesticide in their country, as well as in what quantities and for which applications, the active ingredients in all such pesticides first have to be approved at the EU level. In other words, if the EU as a body approves of the use of a certain chemical, then each member state can go on to decide whether or not to allow the use of that chemical in their country. On the other hand, if the EU does not approve a certain chemical, then no EU member state may use that chemical at all.
The use of glyphosate has been approved in EU member states since 2002. However, in the EU, once approved is not always approved.
A European Commission press release explains:
The EU has one of the strictest systems in the world for the assessment of pesticides. Hundreds of active substances, like glyphosate, have gone through or are going through a stringent scientific assessment process. The EU approval of an active substance is only granted for a limited period of time (up to 15 years) and must be renewed regularly.
With regard to glyphosate, an evaluation has been under way in the EU for the past three years to try to determine whether or not to renew the chemical’s license.
And that’s where the problem has arisen. EU states have been unable to reach consensus about whether to allow the use of this deadly chemical.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared in March 2015:
For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
On the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) insists that glyphosate "is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans." EFSA claims that there is no evidence to link glyphosate to stomach, colon, lung, kidney, brain or prostate cancer, although it does admit that there is “conflicting evidence” when it comes to non-Hodgkin lymphoma – the very cancer the IARC did find a link to.
Critics on both sides have accused the scientists of fudging the results.
And with Monsanto’s near perfect record of evilness, it is incredibly likely that there has been some tampering somewhere along the line. And it is highly unlikely that it was the IARC researchers on the receiving end of backhanders, since their report has single-handedly created a record number of lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that glyphosate caused plaintiffs to get non-Hodgkin lymphoma. (Related: Customers as young as 10 damaged by Roundup weedkiller now suing Monsanto.)
Regardless, a frustrated EU member panel decided unilaterally to extend glyphosate’s license for a limited time while the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) finalizes yet another review into glyphosate’s links to cancer. This, after the three powerhouse member states – Germany, France and Italy – refused to vote for the relicensing of the herbicide earlier this year. Or, as the EU member panel put it, “Member States failed to take responsibility (no qualified majority was reached at either the Standing Committee or the Appeal Committee).”
And now the world – and Monsanto – waits with bated breath for the findings of the ECHA inquiry.