Huge setback for pesticide claimed to be the “safest ever”

The Soil Association claimed a victory today in the campaign to stop glyphosate being sprayed on wheat before it makes its way to British bread. Today, 13 April 2016, the European Parliament has voted in favour of re-authorising the use of glyphosate but have limited this approval to seven years – with a number of significant restrictions.

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely sold weedkiller and has been claimed to be safe by pesticide by the pesticide industry. The Soil Association’s Not in my Bread campaign has been calling for a UK ban on the use of Glyphosate on wheat as a pre-harvest weedkiller as a way to kill the crop to ripen it faster, since last year. Today the EU Parliament, in an advisory vote, has called ‘for restrictions on use in agricultural fields shortly before harvesting’.

Significantly, the EU parliament halved the extension of the license called for by the pesticide industry from 15 years to 7.

What’s more, ‘the Parliament also called for full disclosure of the scientific evidence behind an assessment of glyphosate by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’ – overturning over 50 years of unpublished industry funded studies being used in secret to get pesticides authorised in countries like the UK.

In a dramatic move which will give heart to local campaigners all over the world, the EU Parliament proposed banning its use public spaces and called for ‘a ban on all uses of glyphosate-based herbicides in private and public green areas, including spraying in and around public parks, playgrounds and gardens’.

Peter Melchett policy director of the Soil Association said; “Just a few months ago everyone assumed that glyphosate would sail through reauthorisation in the EU without any problems. The decisions by the parliament today are a dramatic blow, not just to the future use of glyphosate but to the pesticide industry generally.”

374 MEPs supported the resolution, with 225 against and 102 abstaining, according to the European Parliament Committee on Environment.

Last year, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), concluded ‘Glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans’. The newly recognised dangers of Glyphosate come against a background of increased use in the UK. Glyphosate is used in public parks and other urban areas to kill weeds. In the last year for which government figures are available, nearly a third of UK cereals, wheat and barley, were sprayed with Glyphosate – a total of just over one million hectares.

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