In debate since 2015, Europe has now decided ... towards the extension of the authorization of RoundUp despite health risks to human health and wildlife. Indeed, member states agreed on Monday to re-authorize glyphosate for 5 years at an appeal committee after more than two years of intense debate on this controversial herbicide.
It is a surprise, three weeks before the expiration date of the current license, as the divisions seemed insurmountable, Glyphosate having become a societal issue after its classification as " probable carcinogen In May 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (an organ of the WHO).
The nine countries that had already said no in a first vote on November 9 have stuck to their position, according to European sources, the ballot taking place behind closed doors.
France in particular reiterated its opposition. On Sunday, the Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological Transition Brune Poirson reiterated Paris' commitment in favor of a gradual exit from glyphosate and a shorter authorization period.
“This is not a clear signal for phasing out glyphosate. The fight must continue, ”Luxembourg Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg tweeted Monday afternoon.
This time around, 18 countries supported the Commission proposal - up from 14 in the previous round - barely reaching the threshold of over 65% of the EU population needed for a qualified majority.
Germany's change of course weighed in the balance, after she abstained on November 9. According to a source familiar with the matter, Berlin has requested changes to the proposed text in connection with restrictions on the private use of glyphosate and respect for biodiversity.
German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was immediately moved by the vote in a press release. She explains that she once again indicated her opposition to a new authorization, "even under certain conditions", to her counterpart in Agriculture, which belongs to the conservatives of the CSU.
"It was clear that Germany had to abstain," said Hendricks.
"Today's vote shows that when we want, we can share and accept our collective responsibility in decision-making," European Commissioner for Health Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement.
One million signatures
The Commission had shown its disapproval of the lack of a clear decision within the committee of experts. If the impasse had lasted Monday, the European executive would have had to decide itself.
It had relied to base its proposal on the green light of its scientific agencies, Efsa and Echa (food safety and chemicals) which had not classified the substance as carcinogenic, building on other studies.
The Commission will now adopt a decision before the current authorization expires on December 15.
The decision angered the NGOs who fought fiercely against a re-authorization.
"Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and the environment at risk, and this is a major setback for more sustainable farming methods," said Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe.
The main European farmers' union, Copa-Cogeca, is said to have hoped for even more, with European legislation allowing a substance to be authorized for 15 years.
“While it is good news that the decision has been made, ending the uncertainty for farmers and their cooperatives, we are concerned that the EU has agreed to re-authorization for five years and not 15, ”the union said in a statement.
Glyphosate is prized by farmers for its efficiency and low cost.
An official petition calling for the gradual disappearance of glyphosate in the EU, classified as a “European citizens' initiative”, has collected over a million signatures. It has been filed with the Commission, which must respond to it by the beginning of next year.
Carlo Di Antonio and Céline Fremault deplore the renewal of the authorization
"A sad decision by Europe", Judge Walloon Minister of the Environment Carlo Di Antonio (cdH) on Monday after the European Union has decided to renew the authorization of glyphosate for 5 years. For her Brussels counterpart Céline Fremault (cdH), “the EU does not take into account the opinion of citizens or their health. "
"The elementary application of the precautionary principle has come up against the strength of the phyto industry," said Carlo Di Antonio in a first reaction published on the social network Twitter. “Belgium voted against the renewal but 18 countries decided otherwise. I hope that the federal government will ban marketing in Belgium, ”he adds.
“Where is the precautionary principle in this decision? “, Adds the Brussels Minister of the Environment Céline Fremault on the social network. “The EU does not take into account the opinions of citizens and their health. Calling! “, She believes, recalling that the substance is already banned in the capital region.
The marketing authorization for glyphosate, an active substance used in herbicides, was renewed for five years on Monday afternoon by a majority of member states, said the cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture, Denis Ducarme. (MR). He also deplored the position adopted by his colleagues. Belgium voted against the renewal.
Greenpeace "surprised" and "scandalized" by the renewal of the authorization
“It was not at all expected that the authorization of glyphosate would be renewed without restriction. It is a scandalous and dangerous decision ”, reacts Thomas Leroy, spokesperson for Greenpeace Belgium, to the renewal by a majority of European Member States of the five-year authorization of glyphosate. This active substance used in herbicides is classified " probably carcinogenic "By an organization of the World Health Organization (WHO), recalls the environmental organization.
“The people charged with protecting us have failed. The Commission, like the majority of Member States, was more afraid of possible lawsuits than of flouting the precautionary principle by accepting a product potentially dangerous for the health of citizens, ”Thomas Leroy worries.