Contentious renewal of glyphosate licence

The controversial weedkiller glyphosate can be sprayed on European crops for another five years, after 18 ouf of 28 countries voted in favour of the extension on Monday - with Germany's vote tipping the scales. While some observers are enraged by the way in which the decision was reached, others point out that the weedkiller shouldn't be demonised.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

When money instead of reason rules the day

The EU is flying in the face of all the warnings about cancer and blocking the development of sustainable agriculture methods, rails the founder of Slow Food International Carlo Petrini in La Repubblica:

“For the umpteenth time we see that the EU's decisions are not made in the interest of the citizens but follow the dictates of concessions and financial profit. ... The inglorious indecisiveness [of the EU governments] is also resulting in a lack of any positive vision for the future. What will the farming industry of the future look like? ... The European institutions seem to look no further than the multinationals' pesticide stocks. So not only must we fear for our health, we also face a long wait for a virtuous process that humanity so urgently needs to begin.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Stop using Brussels as a scapegoat

The debate over the glyphosate approval highlights once more a fundamental problem in the political discourse of many EU member states, the Financial Times puts forward:

“The wider issue is the long-standing tendency of national governments to duck difficult decisions when they can be passed to the commission and blamed on the Brussels technocracy. Abstention made no sense at all in this case, since member states remain free to impose their own national bans on glyphosates, as France plans to do. If EU leaders are serious about wanting to restore public enthusiasm for the European project, there is an easy way to begin: stop telling voters that everything they dislike is Brussels' fault.”

tagesschau.de (DE) /

As dangerous as sausage and ham

Tagesschau.de dismisses the panic-mongering over the extended approval for glyphosate:

“The European Food Safety Authority already gave the green light last year. And the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), and most recently the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), have concluded that if used properly glyphosate doesn't pose a risk. That a sub-agency of the [World Health Organisation] WHO has classified the substance as a 'probable carcinogen' only apparently contradicts this - because the agency doesn't assess the concrete risk to humans and animals but simply tests whether a substance has the potential to be harmful in high doses. For the researchers sausage and ham also belong in this category.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Farm industry will be eternally grateful

The taz is enraged by the CSU minister of agriculture's apparently unilateral move in the vote in Brussels:

“The regular procedure in the German government is clear: if the cabinet can't reach a decision Germany must abstain in Brussels. Schmidt simply ignored this - no doubt he assumed that the gratitude of the agricultural industry would help him more than the anger of the people. ... If the SPD still has any vestige of self-respect it must insist that Schmidt resign as minister before it even contemplates renewing a grand coalition. And if this decision by the CSU man at the EU level was made against the express will of the SPD, the Social Democrats must ensure that glyphosate is banned at least in Germany.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A surprise move ahead of Monsanto takeover

Berlin's decision to yield is not without reason, La Repubblica suspects:

“In Brussels people are saying that Germany changed its mind after it secured promises regarding the protection of biodiversity and restrictions on the private use of glyphosate. The fact remains that Germany's abstention was justified with the argument that the government couldn't reach a consensus. But right now that government is just a caretaker regime. Reason enough for malicious tongues to talk of a surprise attack. ... Because on the topic of glyphosate who can avoid thinking of the US company Monsanto, whose main source of income is this weedkiller? And wasn't Monsanto supposed to be being taken over by the German company Bayer?”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Consumers must use their influence

Consumers also have a say in the use of glyphosate, Wiener Zeitung stresses:

“They can use their market power to get the farm industry to rethink its practices. Of course it goes without saying that they'll be faced with higher prices. At the same time, however, there's a need for more transparency. Consumers have a right to detailed information about how the products that end up on their table are produced and which chemicals are involved in this process. As far as food products go, quality awareness is above the EU average in Austria, and Austrian farmers also have an above-average 'organic awareness'. With a little commitment one could transform the country into a glyphosate-free zone.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Same old same old

This means there will be no change of thinking in Europe's farming industry, Die Presse laments:

“The prolongation is being prolonged. There's no motivation for farmers to rethink their practices or go back to more laborious, mechanical methods for cultivating the soil. There's no motivation to restore the natural balance between pests and beneficial species. ... Finally, there's no motivation to say goodbye to radical farming practices or to create incentives for an environmentally- and consumer-friendly food and feed production. Glyphosate is here to stay, as is everything else.”