Europe has become a battleground between environmental groups and big biotech companies. A French farmer won a case against Monsanto after suffering neurological problems due to inhaling their weedkiller, Lasso. By now, everyone has seen the study from the World Health Organization’s cancer agency calling glyphosate, the darling of Monsanto’s herbicides, probably carcinogenic. Instances like these and many others have left some European Nations wary of these chemicals, as evidence of their toxicity to humans is on the rise.
The Votes Are…Not In
And now we come to a crossroads. The European license for glyphosate is scheduled to expire on June 30. Previous meetings of nations of the European Union to renew the license for a 15-year span have ended in stalemates, as countries have refused to support that renewal in the face of growing scientific unrest and public opposition. The latest meeting took place Monday, with the executive body of the European Union, the European Commission (which is not affiliated with any specific country), proposing a 12- to 18-month extension for more scientific study. Malta was the only voice speaking against the extension, but the lack of votes from Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Portugal and Luxembourg kept the extension from being adopted.
The Results Are…Likely To Go One of Two Ways
So what happens now, with the glyphosate license expiring in less than a month? Option one would be an executive decision by the European Commission ignoring the lack of agreement from EU Nations and reauthorizing glyphosate. While possible, this scenario flies in the face of the Commission’s support of the democratic process that led to last year’s law allowing countries to make their own decisions regarding genetically modified crops. The leader of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has publicly proclaimed his unwillingness to act against the interests of the majority view. The proposal of an extension did receive support from many countries, though, and Monsanto could see losses of potentially up to $5 billion dollars, which could result in some serious corporate pressure on the Commission.
What’s behind door number two? The simple option: leave it be. If a new agreement is not in place by the 30th of June, the license is expired and all glyphosate products need to be gone from European Union shelves in six months. Is this more likely to happen if there are only eight votes either blocking or missing in keeping glyphosate from the shiny new license it desires? It seems unlikely until you consider some of the countries that abstained: Germany, France, and Italy, aka, three of the most powerful countries in the EU. The more you look at it, the more prudent this option becomes, really. Glyphosate has been labeled as probably cancer-causing. A product with issues (dangerous malfunctions, allergens or food contamination) would be pulled the shelves immediately. Why is glyphosate any different?
The Whole World Should be Watching
Europe has been on the forefront of recent biotech regulations in agriculture, and the decision, in this case, will resonate throughout the world. Supporters of a renewed license have pointed to the fear and confusion this will cause with consumers, which consumers would be well within their rights to feel. A probable cancer-causing chemical that has previously been sprayed with wild abandon is pulled off of shelves until a scientific consensus can be reached. What exactly is there to fear again? The knowledge that safety takes a backseat to profits, perhaps.
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- Scientists Against GMOs – Hear From Those Who Have Done the Research
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- Malta Alone in Voting Against Glyphosate, But Abstentions Block EU Proposal – timesofmalta.com
- UPDATE 4-EU Countries Refuse to Back New Licence For Glyphosate Weed-Killer – cnbc.com
- EU Nations Refuse to Back New License for Glyphosate Weed-Killer – reuters.com