The debate about glyphosate raises the serious question that if policymakers cannot trust scientific data then on what can they base their policies, Mairead McGuinness, first Vice-President of the European Parliament, has said.
Speaking in the European Parliament following a public hearing on ‘The Monsanto Papers and Glyphosate’ she said: “In this hearing we heard nothing new, just a repeat of the scientific evidence and advice from our EU agencies, EFSA and ECHA that Glyphosate is not a carcinogen. This is advice and guidance that I accept.”
She said against that there are others saying that it is a carcinogen and must be banned and accusing Monsanto of “ghost writing” scientific studies.
“The most telling and disturbing comment in this hearing came from European Corporate Observatory, which opposes the re-licensing of glyphosate and asked the question, ‘What do we do about farmers who face the choice of cancer or losses’.
“We should not underestimate the lobby to ban glyphosate. But we also need to understand that for many decades glyphosate has proven itself to be an effective tool for farmers, and there is no safe substitute product that we know of.”
Ms McGuinness said even those who want it banned admit that there will be huge consequences for European agriculture.
“There is also the reality that none of our trading partners today or potential partners in the future are likely to ban this product. So if member states refuse to give their approval for it to be licensed beyond the end of this year, it will no longer be available to farmers, yet we will import animal feed and raw materials produced using glyphosate products.”
She added that there is one area of concern that regulators do need to address and that is the issue of co-formulants used with glyphosate.
“The European Parliament’s glyphosate resolution supported the withdrawing of products containing a formulation of POE – tallowamine and glyphosate because of real concerns about its safety.
“If EFSA, ECHA, and the environment protection agencies of Japan, Canada and Australia have all concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, yet there are claims to the contrary, then policy makers (who are not toxicologists) are left with a stark choice to rely on the scientific expertise of the agencies we know and fund or ignore them.”
“We risk downgrading our regulatory system, denying farmers an important production tool and unnecessarily causing fears among citizens about products which have helped to produce food in abundance in the EU,” she concluded.
On October 25th the future of glyphosate in the EU is expected to be voted on when member states will be required to show their support for its approval or vote to ban the product.
This vote will have a major impact on EU farmers and our food production system, McGuinness warned.