The European Parliament is calling for a gradual phase out of glyphosate, a substance found in common weedkillers and widely used by households and in agriculture. MEPs want a rethink of the farming model to include alternatives such as integrated pest management.
Glyphosate is a herbicide present in the common weedkiller used by gardeners, and is widely used in forestry and agriculture. Farmers spray it on land before crops such as corn and sugar beet are sown, to control weeds and facilitate growth. Its manufacturer, Monsanto, a multinational company, has also developed genetically modified crops - resistant to glyphosate. Experts are divided over the substance; The World Health Organisation's cancer agency has said it's 'probably carcinogenic'. The EU Food Safety Watchdog has judged glyphosate safe for public use. The European Parliament voted a resolution calling for more transparency on the issue. We will see if Parliament will establish an inquiry committee. I would like to see the Commission look at the adverse effects of this compound which were not assessed until now. A majority of member states have now decided to renew the authorisation of glyphosate for five years, instead of the initially proposed ten. Parliament wants a gradual phase out of the product within the next five years, that would require a radical change in farming practices. For example, if you do integrated pest management, you can achieve the same results without using these kind of herbicides and pesticides. More than 1.3 million people signed a petition for an outright ban in Europe. The debate on glyphosate is far from over.