EU Member States have been asked to vote again on glyphosate’s re-authorisation on Monday, June 6, in Brussels, following last month’s unsuccessful talks on the issue.

European Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, has said that the Commission has asked for an extension to the chemical’s current approval, which is to run out on July 1, until the European Union’s Agency for Chemical Products (ECHA) forms an opinion on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity.

It is understood that the Commission will request to keep the pesticide on the market for another 18 months.

“We have now called for the Expert Committee to meet on the June 6, to discuss the file once again and take the vote on the basis of a limited extension of the current approval, until ECHA opinion dispels the remaining doubts.

“Indeed, under the EU law, the last word belongs to the ECHA, this is why the Commission proposes to ask ECHA for its scientific assessment on the carcinogenicity of the glyphosate and to extend the current approval of glyphosate until it receives ECHA’s opinion.”

Commissioner Andriukaitis said that he believes it is important to clarify that once an active substance is approved – or renewed at EU level – it is then up to Member States to authorise the final products (the herbicides and pesticides themselves) put on their respective markets.

“The EU approval of an active substance only means that the Member States can authorise plant protection products on their territory, but they are not obliged to do that.”

The Member States who wish not to use glyphosate based products have the possibility to restrict their use. They do not need to hide behind the Commission’s decision.

“However, if there is no EU approval, Member States have no choice anymore: the authorisation expires on the July 1.”

Should there be no extension, the Commissioner said that Member States would have to withdraw the authorisations for plant protection products containing glyphosate from their market.

“Going beyond these immediate measures, the Commission is preparing a second decision, reviewing the conditions of use of glyphosate.

In this decision, he said he would like to make three clear recommendations to the Member States:

  • Ban a co-formulant called POE-tallowamine from glyphosate based products;
  • Minimise the use in public parks, public playgrounds and gardens;
  • Minimise the pre-harvest use of glyphosate.

“The responsibility to introduce such type of measures belongs to the Member State, but I believe this is important to promote sustainable use of pesticides and herbicides.”

Concluding, the Commissioner said that the ball is now in the Member States’ court and that the Commission has done its utmost to reach a suitable solution, based on sound scientific evidence.