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Glyphosate in the EU

On 13 April, the EU Parliament called on the European Commission to restrict certain permitted uses of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, best known in Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’ formulation. Glyphosate was last year determined to be “probably carcinogenic” by the WHO.

The parliament’s resolution called for no approval for many uses now considered acceptable, including use in or close to public parks, playgrounds and gardens and use where integrated pest management systems are sufficient for necessary weed control.

The resolution, however, fell short of calling for an outright ban. Due to the various political maneuverings, a disappointing compromise was reached that called for the renewal of the licence for glyphosate to be limited to just seven years instead of the 15 proposed by the Commission.

The resolution and the vote to re-approve glyphosate for seven years are non-binding, and, on Wednesday 18 May, the European Food Standard Authority Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed will meet to decide whether glyphosate is to be re-registered for use in the EU.

In addition to the World Health Organisation classifying glyphosate as being probably carcinogenic to humans, various peer-reviewed studies have indicated strong links between its use and a range of serious diseases and deleterious environmental impacts, as presented by Rosemary Mason in the documents that are attached to this article.

Rosemary Mason has been campaigning about the harmful effects of glyphosate for many of years. She has sent various open letters accompanied by in-depth, fully-referenced reports to key figures in both Britain and the EU who are responsible for regulating the use of glyphosate and for setting the official narrative about this substance. In the attached downloads provided at the end of this text, you can access some of the documents she has sent to the EFSA, European Commission and other key bodies/figures since November 2015. They provide detailed descriptions of the impacts of glyphosate along with the ongoing saga of deception and duplicity that result in an ultimate failure to regulate.

It would be an understatement to say that Mason smells a rat: the kind of rat recently discussed on the Corporate European Observatory website, which describes the strategic position the biotech lobby has gained within the heart of policy/decision-making processes in the EU. And the kind of rat that underlies the collusion between this lobby and regulatory/policy bodies in Europe, which has been described many times over the years: for example, see William Engdahl’s recent piece here on the “cesspool of corruption” that underpins relations  between the EU, EFSA and the major pesticide companies; read how scientific evidence was sidelined in the EU here to get the use of gylphosate sanctioned; and, just to highlight the type of companies public officials and bodies are all too willing to jump into bed with, read how Monsanto appears to have hidden evidence of the glyphosate-cancer link for decades.

With reports emerging that the EC plans to relicense glyphosate for nine years, should we be too surprised about this when glyphosate sales account for $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenue (2014 figure)? The level of collusion between the biotech lobby and public officials suggest that the line between product promoting and regulating was crossed long ago.

In response to the WHO reclassification of glyphosate as being probably carcinogenic to humans, the EFSA responded with its own review and concluded a cancer link was unlikely. The way the review was manipulated to reach that conclusion has been roundly condemned by dozens of scientists.

Mason notes that there is currently a legal case in process against EU regulators, and. if anyone were to be found to be colluding with the pesticides industry over the licensing of glyphosate, there are likely to be severe penalties. Environmentalists have launched the case against Monsanto and EU regulators over glyphosate assessment. Details about this action are provided on the GMWatch website, where it states:

“If there has been deliberate manipulation of the new licensing procedure for glyphosate with the intention of approving a carcinogenic substance, then this would be defrauding 508 million EU citizens,” states Viennese lawyer Dr Josef Unterweger. For this reason Dr Unterweger is pressing charges on behalf of Munich Environmental Institute and the six environmental organisations: Global 2000, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, PAN Germany, PAN UK, Générations Futures (France), WeMove Europe, and Nature & Progrès Belgique. A report will also be submitted to OLAF, the European anti-fraud office.

The ongoing scenario surrounding glyphosate begs the question whose interests are ultimately being served? Those of 500 million Europeans or those of Monsanto, a corporation that will be put ‘on trial’ as part of a civil society initiative for crimes against nature and humanity and ecocide in The Hague on World Food Day, October 16, 2016 (see Monsanto’s track record here).

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offence is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.

As for the symbolic trial, on the tribunal’s website, it states:

“According to its critics, Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, by manipulating the press and media, etc. The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.”

How long do the EC and the EFSA think they can continue to play the European public for fools?

Rosemary Mason’s documents contain a great amount of detail on the glyphosate issue and can be consulted here:

Glyphosate causes cancer and birth defects. Humans and the environment are being silently poisoned by thousands of chemicals

Open Letter to the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed

Open Letter to the European Commission and European Food Safety Authority

British journalists, politicians and farmers are being used as guinea pigs

More articles by:

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

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