France to Deny Reauthorizing Glyphosate Sales in the European Union
It appears France is prepared to be the blocking vote to keep the EU from selling or deploying the toxic weed killer glyphosate.
Although the decision has not happened yet, the issue of glyphosate’s legalization in Europe has become highly politicized in recent months.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, one of the most widely-used weed killers in the world, has been a controversy for years because many studies have labeled it a potential carcinogen.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously published research concluding that the chemical is carcinogenic with little doubt. The chemical has also been linked to numerous tumors and other illnesses as it has increased in use, especially in the United States. There are also studies which show glyphosate can have a disastrous impact on important soil microbes, by scrambling their DNA and effectively converting once-healthy microbes into toxic disease agents of their own.
Glyphosate is currently legal to use and apply in Europe under past rulings, but its license is scheduled to expire at the end of this year and must be formally renewed for sales and use of the chemical to continue. It is a critical ‘partner chemical’ without which Monsanto’s current Genetically-modified Crop (GMO) wildly-successful products cannot succeed. The GMOS which work with glyphosate are genetically-engineered to withstand the impact of even heavy applications of the dangerous weed killer. There is a lot of money at stake here for Monsanto to protect.
Monsanto is itself fighting the ban through lobbying and attempting to influence scientists analyzing the risks of using glyphosate. It also has a new partner in the battle with some strong local credentials, in the form of its new corporate parent Bayer, who agreed to buy Monsanto in September 2016. With Bayer itself already a global giant in the pharmaceutical, chemical and agribusiness communities, including its own line of GMO crops and related weed and pest chemicals, Bayer is also fighting for Monsanto’s glyphosate to get approved as well. Bayer also happens to be headquartered in Leverkusen, North Rhine-westphalia, Germany, right in the heart of the European Union’s most successful economy.
While past analyses had suggested it was a high probability that the license to sell or use glyphosate would not be renewed in the EU, several other factors this year reset that expectation. In March, the EU’S own chemicals agency issued a finding that they felt glyphosate should not be classed as a carcinogen. Then in May, a new set of reviews carried out by the UN’S Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WHO, which concluded that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogen risk to humans from exposure through the diet”.
The EU’S finding in March and the May analyses are contradicted by many other findings, including testimony last year at The Hague Tribunal about glyphosate, which found the chemical to be both carcinogenic as well as linked to tumor creation and many other serious illnesses. These two 2017 results, however, were more than enough to trigger the European Commission to propose renewing the license to sell and use glyphosate in the EU, for 2018 and beyond.
Despite the March and May conclusions, however, the European public is not at all convinced of the safety of the glyphosate. As backing for their position, more than one million people in the EU signed a petition in June of this year demanding that the EU ban glyphosate as soon as possible.
The final vote for the EU to renew or deny the license is currently scheduled for October 4. Assuming France stays steadfast in its decision to block the renewal, that should provide enough votes to deny Monsanto’s glyphosate sales – at least for now.