Thursday

19th Apr 2018

Belgian ministers take action in EU weed killer dispute

  • Anti-glyphosate protest in Germany (Photo: Moritz Richter/Campact)

Regional environment ministers in the Brussels and Wallonia jurisdictions in Belgium have said they will ban glyphosate - a pesticide which some say probably causes cancer and whose EU stamp of approval is up for renewal.

The ministers, Celine Fremault and Carlo Di Antonio, said on Tuesday (8 March) in a joint statement that they were “stunned” that Belgium’s federal government had supported a European Commission proposal to renew glyphosate approval for another 15 years.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Monsanto's Roundup, sold also in Denmark, is the most famous application of glyphosate (Photo: Jacob Bøtter)

“Environment ministers Carlo Di Antonio and Celine Fremault agree that pesticides like glyphosate represent a real risk for human health and the environment,” the statement said.

They spoke amid disagreement this week by EU governments on the future of the substance, a weed-killer that was put on the market by US company Monsanto in the 1970s.

Monsanto sells glyphosate under the brand name Roundup and also offers farmers genetically modified crops that are resistant to glyphosate.

Its EU authorisation is due to expire at the end of June. The European Commission proposed to extend the approval, based on positive advice by the European Food Safety Authority, an EU agency in Parma, Italy.

Environmentalists have waged a campaign against the renewal because the World Health Organization's (WHO’s) cancer agency found last year that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”.

EU states’ experts at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday failed to reach agreement on the file.

Greenpeace and the European Parliament's Green group welcomed the discord.

“The growing opposition among EU governments to reapproving glyphosate for use in the EU is encouraging,” German Green MEP Martin Haeusling said in a press release.

“We hope this postponement will convince more EU governments to join in opposing the approval of this controversial substance.”

Greenpeace asked countries to wait for an assessment of the effect of glyphosate on human health by the European Chemicals Agency, another commission offshoot based in Helsinki. Its conclusions are expected at the end of 2017.

“Rushing to grant a new licence now, without waiting for an evaluation by Europe’s chemical agency, would be like skydiving without checking your equipment first,” said Greenpeace's Franziska Achterberg.

“As long as there is conflicting scientific advice, glyphosate should not be approved for use in the EU,” she said.

A glyphosate industry group said last month in a statement that the pesticide “has a long history of safe use across the world”.

The WHO classification of “probably carcinogenic” applies to a wide range of substances, including anabolic steroids.

Glyphosate falls in “group 2A” of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer. Last October, the agency announced that red meat also posed a group 2A risk. It classified the consumption of processed meat in an even higher risk group - “group 1 carcinogens”.

The glyphosate dispute highlights a broader divergence in Europe.

EU policy on genetically modified organisms (GMO) is also applied in different ways in member states. Parts of European society are more open to scientific recommendations, but other parts take an emotional approach to chemical and GMO products.

The European Commission on Tuesday gave a limited comment on the EU’s internal delay.

“Discussions are ongoing, and that's all I can say from our point of view”, its spokesman, Alexander Winterstein, said.

EU agriculture ministers pummel GMO opt-out plan

The EU commission wants to give countries the power to ban GMOs. “It's not useful, it's impracticable, and it's likely to bring a large majority against it”, was one reaction.

EU declines to renew glyphosate licence

Member states did not agree on conditions to renew the permit for the chemical used in pesticides, amid contradictory evidence on a possible cancer link.

Investigation

EU weed-killer evidence 'written by Monsanto'

The EU's favourable opinion of the weed-killer chemical glyphosate was partially based on scientific evidence heavily influenced by weed-killer manufacturer Monsanto.

Opinion

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

Magazine

A sustainable death wish

No one can escape death. But choices over how one's body is disposed of could either lessen or increase your carbon footprint.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  2. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  3. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  4. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans
  5. Turkey snap elections set for 24 June
  6. Post-Brexit UK passports to be printed in France after all
  7. EU Parliament condemns Selmayr appointment
  8. EU trade commissioner: we are not offering US anything

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  2. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  3. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  4. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  8. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  11. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  12. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris

Latest News

  1. Draghi to stay part of secretive 'lobby' group
  2. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  3. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  4. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  5. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  6. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole
  7. EU investment bank confirms secrecy of VW fraud report
  8. More commitment to renewables from Council, please

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  2. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  3. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  4. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  5. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  6. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  9. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  11. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  12. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership