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April 26 — The European Commission could compromise on a controversial draft proposal to reauthorize glyphosate in the European Union through 2031, the bloc's top food safety official said April 26.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU health and food safety commissioner, speaking to the European Parliament's environment committee, said, “personally I was very happy” about a European Parliament proposal to shorten the reauthorization period for glyphosate to seven years and to impose conditions on the reauthorization.
In February, the commission, the EU's executive arm, circulated the proposal to reauthorize glyphosate through 2031 (39 INER 283, 3/9/16).
But in an April 13 vote, the European Parliament adopted a nonbinding resolution recommending that the commission shorten the authorization period for glyphosate to seven years and to limit the new authorization to professional uses of the substance (39 INER 499, 4/20/16).
Glyphosate is the world's highest production volume herbicide. The current EU-level authorization for the substance expires June 30.
The commission's February proposal provoked opposition because the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer in March 2015 said glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic,” though the European Food Safety Authority subsequently disagreed with that finding (38 INER 1565, 11/17/15).
Andriukaitis said the commission was still considering what to do with its draft reauthorization proposal. A final proposal must be put to a vote of a regulatory committee of EU member state representatives before the commission can adopt it.
The regulatory committee had an initial discussion about the reauthorization in March and could vote on it at a May 18–19 session (39 INER 281, 3/9/16).
Andriukaitis praised the European Parliament's resolution for having “flexibilities and compromises,” and being “very balanced,” and said he aimed to take a “reasonable decision bearing in mind the complexity of the issue.”
Bart Staes, a Belgian Green member of the European Parliament, said at the hearing with Andriukaitis that the commission should not just compromise by reducing the proposed reauthorization period for glyphosate, but also should respect the use limitations that Parliament recommended and “make sure that they will be in the proposal.”
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