Brussels is justifying the renewal of the authorization to use glyphosate based on the latest report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which last July ruled out "critical areas of concern" in the use of this herbicide, although it admitted that some issues could not be evaluated.
"We have made this decision based on sound scientific research," stated Stefan de Keersmaecker, the European Commission's spokesperson for food safety issues, at the Commission's daily press conference.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate in a 2015 report as a substance that is 'probably carcinogenic to humans', and environmental groups have denounced that, since it's not selective, this herbicide is capable of killing many organisms, thus damaging biodiversity.
European legislation stipulates that the permit for the use of pesticides or herbicides can be renewed for a maximum period of 15 years. In this case, however, Brussels proposes to extend the validity of glyphosate for a decade.
"The European Commission will continue to analyze the enormous amount of scientific data we have and monitor new findings. That's why we've proposed a 10-year extension instead of the maximum 15-year period," De Keersmaecker stated.
Furthermore, sources close to the Commission said they were open to reviewing glyphosate use over the next decade "if new research emerges during this period that challenges EFSA's conclusions."
“Within a few years there will be a body of knowledge and evidence that can be taken into account in the future new evaluation process,” the same sources added.
At the press conference, the spokesperson also guaranteed that the new proposal imposes "strict conditions" on the use of glyphosate, including the obligation to protect groundwater and small mammals that may be exposed to the use of the herbicide.
However, the European Commission's proposal must be approved by a qualified majority of the EU member states, which will vote on the issue on October 13.
The authorization for the use of glyphosate in the EU expires in December of this year, but sources close to the Commission stated that if the countries do not reach the qualified majority for the renewal of the permit in this first vote in October, the validity of the herbicide would be extended until deliberations are completed.
Only one EU member state has expressed its opposition to extending glyphosate approval during previous discussions with the Commission, according to the same EU sources, which declined to specify which country.