In June, the European Commission confirmed that it would be granting a temporary ‘technical extension’ of approval for the controversial herbicide glyphosate. The decision comes after the proposals failed to win support from the necessary majority of EU governments and were rejected by the European Parliament.
The eleventh-hour reprieve for the dangerous weedkiller is a climb-down from the commission’s original proposal. However, as possibly the first decision taken since the UK voted to leave the EU, it shows the commission is still failing to learn the clear lesson that the EU needs to start listening more attentively to its citizens.
It is something that the UK must start doing too; Brits have had a taste of democracy, and they’re still hungry. Regardless of the disarray into which it’s been propelled, our domestic government must now denounce its previously staunch support of glyphosate and heed both scientific evidence and public concern. The process of phasing-out glyphosate needs to start sooner rather than later. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide. However, it does more than just kill weeds. In fact, the World Health Organization confirmed last year that the substance is ‘probably carcinogenic’ to humans.
There are clear concerns about the health risks associated with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor. Moreover, glyphosate’s devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban.
While the temporary ‘technical extension’ is a disappointing setback for campaigners like me, it is a body blow for Monsanto, the firm responsible for developing and patenting the toxic chemical. The decision should mark the beginning of the end of glyphosate and signal the need to move towards a sustainable agricultural model across the UK and Europe.