Glyphosate herbicide use will continue; people will still be exposed

The EU Commission has unilaterally extended the approval of glyphosate until the end of 2017, after member states repeatedly could not reach an agreement to renew the approval.

The Commission has proposed to the member states certain restrictions on the conditions of use of glyphosate.

However, the restrictions are not significant. The conditions include:

* a ban on the co-formulant POE-tallowamine from glyphosate-based products. But it has already been in the process of being phased out by manufacturers over the past several years, so industry will not be much inconvenienced.
* “obligations to reinforce scrutiny of pre-harvest uses” of glyphosate. This essentially means that member states have to look more closely at pre-harvest use; the language is not binding and doesn’t require specific action.
* to “minimise” use in specific areas (public parks and playgrounds). This doesn’t mean “eliminate” or “ban” and can be interpreted as allowing continued use.

Discussions with the member states took place this week but were inconclusive, the Commission says. The Commission adds that it “regrets that member states have not yet been able to agree to these restricted conditions and will direct the necessary efforts to have them adopted as soon as possible”.

The extension allows time for the European Chemicals Agency to issue its opinion on the health risks of glyphosate.