It is important to note that NO DECISIONS WERE TAKEN ON GLYPHOSATE APPROVAL AT THIS MEETING. The vote on April 13 was an advisory, non-binding resolution of the European Parliament. The body with final say on a new approval, (called a regulation) is the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food & Feed, (SCoPAFF), Phytopharmaceuticals Committee, made up of experts from each Member State. This committee is expected to be presented with a draft glyphosate regulation and vote on it at their meeting on 18th/19th May. Both the Commission and the committee will of course consider the Parliament’s resolution but do not have to follow it. If there is a qualified majority in the committee for the draft regulation it can be passed. If there is no qualified majority the Commission can make the decision and in the past have usually followed the recommendations of their experts. However, we know the Commission wants Member States to take the decision on glyphosate so is likely to put forward a draft regulation that they are confident will get qualified majority support.
The vote at a full, (plenary), meeting of MEPs in the European Parliament on 13th April was a political one organised by a Green Alliance of MEPs through the Environment Committee The resolution initially proposed non-renewal of glyphosate approval following the Precautionary Principle and pending publication of a review by the European Chemicals Agency, (ECHA), as well as a number of issues it considered outstanding. Several of the points raised by Parliament were, in fact, already addressed by the draft regulation and existing legislative procedure.
Meetings with farmer groups across Europe and MEPs recently were successful in informing the MEPs on the importance of glyphosate and though the resolution was passed, it had several amendments including the major one which changed the call not to re-approve glyphosate to one calling for 7 years approval instead of the proposed 15 years.
The headlines in the media have been taken by the inclusion of calls to restrict glyphosate use in public areas, non-professional use and pre-harvest of crops. The resolution calls on the Commission to accelerate their work on the list of co-formulants not accepted for inclusion and welcomes the exclusion of POE-tallow amine from glyphosate products as well as calling for a review once ECHA has reported in 2017. Other calls for scientific evidence on Endocrine Disruption and publication of previously unpublished scientific studies are already in the process of being addressed by the Glyphosate Task Force.
It is important to recall that in November 2015 the European Food Safety Authority gave glyphosate a strong safety endorsement, finding that it can be safely used. There is therefore no scientific evidence or reason to restrict uses from those currently available. However based on the political strength of opponents of crop protection products the Commission is looking for compromise. It would be very unusual for the Commission to draft a regulation excluding specific areas of use such as non-professional or pre-harvest, this is normally left to member states to determine.
There is no legal precedent for a 7 year term of renewal; products with a clear safety finding should be licensed for 15 years. (Should any new data arise they already have the power to revoke the approval for any Plant Protection Product).
The Glyphosate Task Force welcomes constructive dialogue but is concerned recent political scaremongering and promotion of misinformation have hampered informed debate.
The importance of glyphosate to safe and sustainable agriculture, horticulture, land and garden management across the region will continue to be communicated to all Member States before May 18th.
What does this latest vote mean for Roundup users?
• No change from the current situation
o This latest vote was in Parliament, not the Standing Committee and is advisory only, it will likely be considered at the next stage of the approval process but does not have to be followed
o Glyphosate product authorisations are in place until re-registered, replaced or withdrawn which will not happen until the end of the approval process.
o Roundup can continue to be used as normal
o Current glyphosate products can be supplied by Distribution until June 2017 with a further 12 month use up period.
o Should there be further delays in the re-registration process the use-up periods will be extended.
What are the next steps in the approval process?
• The next important milestone in the process is the ScoPAFF vote on 18th /19th May
o This is related to the active ingredient glyphosate only.
• Subsequently Member states will make their decisions on formulated products during the next stage of the process.
in support of the renewal of glyphosate approval.