Summary of the issue
In 2016, awaiting the ECHA opinion on carcinogenicity for glyphosate, the EC agreed a limited extension of the approval of glyphosate till 31st of December 2017. In March 2017 ECHA classified glyphosate as non-carcinogenic, providing the EC the information required to grant a 15 year approval.
Given the overwhelming evidence – provided in 3,300 peer-reviewed studies, in addition to the opinions of the ECHA, EFSA, and the WHO, and a European Parliament Resolution – ECPA expects that the decision making process linked to the approval of glyphosate remains science-based and leads to the just approval of glyphosate for a period of no less than 15 years.
Why is it important
Glyphosate is an herbicide with a 40 year history of safe use. It is widely used in farming, and enables reduced-tillage practices beneficial to soil and water, and efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and keep carbon in the soil. Farmers consider glyphosate one of the most important crop protection tools. In fact, without glyphosate, EU yields of oil seed rape, barley, wheat, and maize are estimated to drop by up to 22%.
Approximately 44% of total arable land in the UK and Germany is now under reduced tillage farming systems. In some regions more than 80% of maize and sugar beet is produced with reduced-tillage systems reliant on glyphosate. Without glyphosate farmers will have little option but to resort to weed control methods that harm the soil and its rich and functional biodiversity, and destroy above and below ground habitats critical for species that contribute to ecosystem services, or are protected by EU-level conservation legislation.