Around a hundred people protested on Wednesday afternoon outside the European Commission in Brussels. This took place on the margins of a meeting of member states on the European Commission’s proposal to grant a 10-year glyphosate licence – this being the most widespread herbicide. This gathering was organised by a coalition of associations, amongst them Greenpeace, Avaaz, Wemouve and Campact. To make their point, those taking part knocked over a bottle of glyphosate from four metres high.
A banner stated that more than one million European citizens have signed a petition against the use of this weed-killer. This petition is calling for European decision-makers to ensure that health protection takes precedence over the interests of the chemical industry.
The glyphosate licence expires in 2016. The European Commission has extended its regulatory approval period by 18 months, to take account of the time required to obtain new scientific data on the substance. Its most recent proposal for a 10-year licence is subject to member state assessment. An initial vote is expected in the Autumn. Julie Deruy, who is leading the campaign at Avaaz, is highly critical saying, “New studies by European organisations are based upon data supplied by the industry.”
She goes on, “We trust the International Centre for Cancer Research, which has classified glyphosate as being potentially carcinogenic. Some cancer experts have, however, indicated that several studies making the link between glyphosate and cancer have in fact been excluded. Europe should listen to its citizens, not the ‘barons’ of the chemical industry. The precautionary principle should be applied.”