In 2017, the EU decided to renew (for a further five years) the licence that permits the herbicide Glyphosate to be marketed and used in the EU28. I have posted before about this (but it was a while back).
Glyphosate is marketed as Roundup by the US agrochemical company Monsanto.
One UN study called the chemical “probably carcinogenic”, but other scientists said it was safe to use.
The UK was among the EU member states in favour of glyphosate renewal. Germany and Poland were also among them – though they had previously abstained.
France and Belgium were among the states that voted against. Portugal abstained. President Macron said after the decision that France would ban Glyphosate as soon as alternatives are found, and within three years at the latest.
The EU Commission said the current proposal on the weedkiller “enjoys the broadest possible support by the member states while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment”.
Glyphosate was introduced by Monsanto in 1974, but its patent expired in 2000, and now the chemical is sold by various manufacturers.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.
Some countries and regions have banned glyphosate use in public parks and gardens. Its effect on plants is non-selective, meaning it will kill most of them when applied.
The European Commission says that besides EFSA, the European Chemicals Agency and other scientific bodies found no link to cancer in humans.
The Soil Association says glyphosate traces are regularly found in bread.
Since the EU decision, a US court has ordered Monsanto to pay one user a substantive sum in damages after he developed cancer, a second case in a different US court also ordered a substantive sum in damages, and further cases are before the US courts in different places.
As a result, Councils across the UK are examining whether to take action. This Guardian article summarises – here.
The current Government guidance is under review.
HSE is the UK regulator responsible for plant protection products (pesticides and herbicides) following Brexit – their online information is here.