Following a tense debate in the European Parliament, Irish MEPs are calling for Ireland and other EU Member States to veto the renewal of glyphosate, a common weedkiller sold in garden centres as RoundUp and used widely in agriculture. On 20 September, the EU Commission proposed the approval of glyphosate for the EU market for another 10 years following an analysis from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA found glyphosate was “chronically toxic to aquatic organisms” and that the chemical carries a “‘high long-term risk to mammals in 12 out of 23 proposed uses.” Despite this, EFSA found that there were no “critical areas of concern” around the approval of glyphosate.
On the 12 and 13 October, EU governments will vote on the renewal of glyphosate in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed. Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Belgium have announced they will vote against the renewal. Ireland’s Green MEPs have written to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, calling on Ireland to join the vote against the glyphosate renewal.
Speaking from the floor of the European Parliament, MEP Grace O’Sullivan said:
“Study after study has described Monsanto and Bayer’s weedkiller as ‘Chronically toxic,’ ‘Probably carcinogenic,’ ‘Linked to liver cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease’ and ‘likely to kill 93% of Endangered Species’ [...] We have one last chance to get this crap off our shelves. Zero tolerance.”
MEP for Dublin Ciarán Cuffe said:
“One million tonnes of glyphosate are used worldwide every year, and the market is dominated by one company: Monsanto. This dangerous herbicide poses an unacceptable risk to the environment, and public support for its continued use is through the floor: over 1 million people have signed the EU Citizens’ Initiative petition calling for a ban. Next week, EU countries (including Ireland) will decide whether to approve it for another ten years. It is time to listen to the concerns of the public, and to the growing research that supports a ban.”
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, patented by Monsanto in the 1970s and marketed as ‘RoundUp’. It is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it kills all green plants and microbes without genetic resistance to the product. The chemical has also been found to enter into the human bloodstream. A recent University of Galway study found glyphosate present in urine samples of over a quarter of all Irish families tested.