Does this weed killer cause cancer? It's certainly giving EU experts a headache

As the debate over the safety of the world’s most widely used weed killer rages on in Brussels, there were demonstrations against glyphosate on Wednesday (July 19).

There have been conflicting studies on whether the popular herbicide can cause cancer.

“European member states have been meeting again to discuss the future of glyphosate and the possibility of its re-licensing,” our reporter Maria Psaras said. “The debate prompted the fastest growing citizens’ initiative in history and is why people are here to demand the end of its use.”

The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency has classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. But the Commission asked for the scientific opinion of the European Chemicals Agency, which said the substance cannot be classified as such. The pesticides industry say the product has been found to be safe and should continue to be sold.

“I am here because I am concerned about farmers, people and nature. We ask from the European Commission, from all governments to invest more in research for alternatives for the use of pesticides,” said Kurt Sannen, a farmer and chairman of Bioforum.

Korsak Leonid, a citizen from Belgium, gave this warning:“Soon there will be no birds, no bees, nothing. So it is time to react.”

For over two years, citizen pressure has stopped member states from agreeing to a full 10-year re-license.

EU governments will be asked to vote on this proposal after the summer.

The EU’s food and health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis gave the following reassurance: “I wanted to make clear that the Commission has no intention to re-approve this substance without the support of the qualified majority of the member states. “

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that glyphosate had been banned. It has not. EU member states are discussing whether to extend the product’s license for another 10 years.
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