Pesticides are a serious issue in this country, and their adverse effects today are even more haunting for future generations. Here at Rootstock we want to take every opportunity to provide education and promote discussion about this pressing concern. All doom and gloom aside, however, I write today as the harbinger of hopeful news! In fact, the latest story was enough to make me dust off our “In the News” series for the summer. Expect periodic posts about breaking headlines in the organic food, agriculture, and sustainability world. We’re passionate about issues in these areas and we hope that if you aren’t already, you will be soon!
This week we’re cheering for our friends in those European Union (EU) nations who have refused to authorize even the limited use of glyphosate in herbicides. The findings about the cancer risk of glyphosate exposure are contradictory, and these discrepancies have brought glyphosate—and commercial herbicides that use it—to the forefront of disagreements among EU and US politicians, regulators and researchers. Monsanto’s widely available weed-killer Roundup, is one such product.
According to an article written for The Guardian, “after failing to win support in two meetings earlier this year for a proposal to renew the license for glyphosate for up to 15 years,” an EU executive had offered a limited 12 to 18 month extension in order to allow for further research. However, even this compromise did not achieve the requisite majority of EU member-states’ support. Without a majority decision, the EU executive can submit his proposal to an appeal committee within one month, and in the event that no decision is reached, the European commission may implement its own proposal.
The Guardian’s story about the glyphosate debate additionally quotes the European Green Party’s environment and food safety spokesperson, Bart Staes, also a member of Parliament, expressing his support for “those EU governments who are sticking to their guns and refusing to authorise this controversial toxic herbicide.” Staes says he has concerns about the health risks associated with glyphosate as an endocrine (hormone) disruptor and a “probable” carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. “Moreover,” he continues, “glyphosate’s devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban.” Staes is dead-on here, as it were.
For a more comprehensive discussion and to learn just how right Bart Staes is about the detrimental effects of pesticides, check out Terra Brockman’s recent Rootstock post Spray Season, Chemical Drift, and Killer “-cides.” Her words add weight to the significant and forward-thinking leadership of those EU countries refusing to renew licensing for glyphosate.