By Caty Arévalo
The plenary session of the European Parliament (EP) today supported the renewal - albeit for seven years instead of fifteen and with other restrictions - of the use of the controversial glyphosate, a compound in pesticides classified as "possible carcinogenic" by the International Agency for Research on the Cancer.
The European Parliament approved by 374 votes in favor, 225 against and 102 abstentions a non-binding resolution that asks that glyphosate be limited to "professional uses" and that its use in parks, playgrounds or gardens be excluded.
MEPs also consider the use of glyphosate in an agricultural practice prior to harvesting “unacceptable”, which they believe increases human exposure to the product.
The approved resolution indicates that, "given the concerns" about its possible carcinogenic nature and the fear that it could cause endocrine alterations, the European Commission "should renew its approval for only seven years instead of fifteen".
Additionally, it requests an independent review and publication of all scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has used to evaluate glyphosate.
The EP also considered that the Community Executive should re-evaluate the approval of glyphosate under separate legislation, in light of its classification to be carried out shortly by the European Chemicals Agency.
Today's resolution calls on the Commission to present a new draft that better addresses the sustainable use of glyphosate-containing herbicides and to launch an independent review of glyphosate toxicity and classification, based not only on character data. carcinogenic, but in relation to possible endocrine alterations.
The president of the EP's Environment commission, Giovanni La Via, told a press conference that, in light of some amendments introduced, the authorization could be modified if decisive scientific findings emerge.
He also stressed that the commitment achieved in the EP respects "the need to maintain the competitiveness of the agricultural sector and, at the same time, ensure the health of citizens."
Glyphosate is the active substance in the world's best-selling herbicide, RoundUp, marketed by the multinational Monsanto.
The group of The Greens criticized the position of the EP and denounced that "the protection of health is not an absolute priority for the majority of European deputies", according to a statement.
For its part, the environmental organization Greenpeace appreciated that MEPs have requested restrictions on the use of glyphosate, although it considered that "they are not enough to protect people and the environment."
"Science shows that glyphosate is a threat to public health and should be banned," the organization added in a statement.
It is expected that in May the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, made up of national experts, will vote on the adoption or rejection of the Commission's proposal on glyphosate.
If the vote does not achieve the support of a qualified majority of countries, it will be up to the Commission to make the decision.
For his part, an EFSA spokesman recalled that in the EU there is a legal framework on intellectual property and business confidentiality that prohibits this agency from automatically publishing full reports and other data.
"It would be irresponsible for EFSA as an EU body to disclose this information without following the process established in the legislation, which requires us to first verify the claims made by companies about sensitive information from a commercial and proprietary point of view" , he stated.