Ag Policy Blog

The EU's Precautionary Struggle with Glyphosate Renewal

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Note: Copa-Cogeca issued another statement Monday calling again for renewed approval after an EU committee failed to approval a plan to reauthorize glyphosate.

The European Union is like a modern form of transcendentalism that creates a higher order of regulatory paradox by crossing the streams of science, politics and bureaucratic malaise to achieve a wholly new level of government inertia.

In all seriousness, the EU did take another step into a greater realm of red tape with its regulatory precautionary principle as the EU Commission grapples with the scientific renewal of glyphosate.

On Wednesday in Brussels, the EU's Commissioner for Health and Food Safety sent out a statement highlighting that the EU authorization for pesticides is the strictest in the world. "Our scientific process is very stringent and relies on pooling of expertise between the European Food Safety Authority and all 28 Member States (countries)."

Risk assessments done by the European Food Safety Authority and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment were both analyzed. "They both concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic."

After that, the statements that transcendental order where rational order is glazed over.

Basically, the Commission can't get the EU Member States to go along. As the statement noted, "even though a majority of Member States is in favor of the renewal, no qualified majority has been reached, in spite of the Commission's efforts to accommodate requests and concerns from a number of national governments, as well as from the European Parliament (which expressed itself in favor of a 7-year renewal).

"Some Member States have been reluctant to take a position." http://europa.eu/…

Even though the EU approves a product, countries could still ban it or restrict it in their own country. Still, the approval process is gridlocked. So the Commission is looking at proposing a temporary license of 12 to 18 months so yet another new study could be conducted. http://www.reuters.com/…

This has led to some concern from EU farmers. Copa-Cogeca, the EU's biggest farm group, issued a statement Thursday stating the group's leaders are warning that European farmers and consumers could face "huge costs" if the EU doesn't grant glyphosate the normal 15-year renewal.

“Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the EU. I have been using it on my arable farm for 40 years to produce quality grain used for bread-making," said Guy Smith, a farmer in the United Kingdom and member of the UK's National Farmers Union. "Pre-harvest use in particular ensures the highest quality for bread and saves money and CO2 emissions compared to drying the crop after harvest. Losing glyphosate would cost the UK economy alone 630 million euros ($702 million) annually, making us less competitive to farmers in non-EU countries who have good access to these tools."

Christian Durlin, a French farmer, added, “Glyphosate enables me to harvest at the right time and have an optimal production to respond to high quality demand for exports and to remain competitive. This is particularly important in view of the increasing market volatility and extreme weather events we are experiencing these days."

Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen added that the group had a unanimous mandate from Copa and Cogeca members to call for a 15-year approval. "Farmers need to have cost-effective and sustainable tools available to ensure safe, reliable and affordable food. We support EFSA’s work. EFSA gave a positive assessment on glyphosate and this should be followed. Therefore, we call Member States to vote in favor of this authorization. Without glyphosate, farmers' livelihoods would be threatened and food production jeopardized as no alternatives exist."

And I point much of this out because it seems the EPA often looks across the pond with too much fondness when dealing with many of the same issues.

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