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Feb. 24 — The European Commission will propose to renew until 2031 the authorization in the European Union of the widely used pesticide glyphosate, according to a draft regulation obtained by Bloomberg BNA.
The proposed renewal is controversial because glyphosate has been labeled “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization, though the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) judged last November that the substance was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.
European Union lawmakers showed their disapproval of glyphosate Feb. 3 by voting in favor of nonbinding resolutions that called on the commission, the EU's executive arm, to reject authorizations for three genetically engineered soybeans on the basis that they had been modified to tolerate glyphosate.
According to the draft regulation to reauthorize glyphosate, the current authorization for the substance will expire June 30, and EFSA's assessment that it should not be classified as carcinogenic provides the basis for its reapproval as safe to use in the EU.
A committee of EU member state representatives will discuss and possibly vote on the commission's draft regulation on glyphosate at a March 7–8 meeting.
Under EU procedural rules, the regulation would be approved if a qualified majority of the committee votes in favor. If there is no qualified majority either in favor or against, the commission will be authorized to adopt the regulation.
Martin Häusling, a German Green European Parliament lawmaker, said in a Feb. 24 statement that because of concerns about glyphosate, “the commission should be respecting its duty to apply the precautionary principle and not steamrolling through approval of this highly controversial substance.”
The draft commission regulation said Germany has notified the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) of an intention to propose a change to the hazard classification of glyphosate in the EU. According to the ECHA website, Germany will file that proposal March 31.
If the hazard classification for carcinogenicity of glyphosate changes as a result of the German proposal, then the approval of the substance through 2031 would be reviewed, the commission regulation said.
The request for reauthorization of glyphosate was submitted by the European Glyphosate Task Force, a consortium of 24 applicants including Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto Europe and Syngenta.
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