4th July 2017
A petition signed by 1.3 million people across Europe was delivered to the European Commission (EC) yesterday calling on the EU to ban glyphosate, an active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular weedkiller ‘Roundup‘.
The petition is calling on the EC to propose a ban on glyphosate in member states, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. The petition was only registered with the EC in January 2017 and has become the fastest growing ECI to date.
This petition was part of a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) which forces the European Commission to take action if one million signatures from across seven member states are received. Ireland was one of ten countries which smashed their signature target, collecting a total of 13,371 signatures.
The campaign says that glyphosates can have damaging effects on soil and biodiversity, the right to a healthy environment and may have possible health risks related to cancer.
The European Chemicals Agency has said that there is not enough evidence to link glyphosate to cancer, however, the validity of the study carried out by The European Food Safety Agency and the European Chemical Agency has been questioned.
US cancer and public health specialist Dr Christopher Portier recently wrote to the EC stating that the reports failed to take account of all occurrences of cancer observed while testing glyphosate on animals., while the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans in 2015.
The petition was organised by the citizens’ movement WeMove. Oliver Moldenhauer, executive director of WeMove, said: ‘Together, we collected signatures in 24 different languages, in every country across Europe. It’s a huge achievement and a major milestone.”
The delivering of the petition is only the first step in the fight against glyphosate, he said. Now that the EC has received this successful petition, they will be forced to make a decision on the views expressed within three months.
The delivery of the petition comes at a significant time for the future of glyphosate. Within the next week, the European Commission is expected to propose a 10-year re-licence of glyphosate. The successful re-licence of the herbicide would see companies such as Monsanto allowed to continue the sale of glyphosate products.
Adding to the events surrounding the issue is the news of a planned merger between Bayer and Monsanto. Official notification of this merger has now been received by the EC.
Adrian Bebb, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe describes this merger as “a marriage made in hell.”
“Bayer and Monsanto already wield enormous power over our food and farming system, and their joining forces would be bad news for citizens, farmers and the environment,” he added.
More than 200 organisations representing farmers, farm workers, beekeepers, development and environment groups have written to the European Commission calling for the merger to be blocked.