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EU must end use of toxic RoundUp chemical – MEP O’Sullivan

The EU’s most common weedkiller has been detected in the urine of 1 in 4 Irish people.

MEP Grace O’Sullivan says analysis from the European Food Safety Authority which found glyphosate had ‘high long-term risk to mammals in 12 out of 23 proposed uses’ is clear evidence that the weedkiller should not be allowed on shelves, criticises report’s contradictory conclusions.

(18 July 2023) MEPs of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee today held a tense exchange of views with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) over the use of common chemical ‘glyphosate’, best known as the weedkiller ‘Roundup’. Glyphosate was produced by agrochemical giant Monsanto before the company and brand was bought by Bayer in 2018. Bayer has since paid out millions in settlements for the impact of Roundup.

Earlier this month, the EFSA shared its conclusions on the peer review of glyphosate to inform the European Commission and Member States in their decision to approve or reject glyphosate’s presence on the EU list of approved pesticides. The report said that it ‘did not identify critical areas of concern’ even though it also flagged significant dangers to health and the environment. The conclusions were heavily criticised.

Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan has said the findings are both shocking and contradictory in their final conclusions, saying that the risks found are enough to end the use of the chemical outright. She also identified massive gaps in the EFSA’s data, including the amount of glyphosate residues in common crops and the impact when glyphosate is mixed with other chemicals known as ‘co-formulants’.

Addressing representatives of the EU agency directly in European Parliament’s Environment Committee today, MEP O’Sullivan said that the report was “highly misleading”, noting that “the report suggests that there is no reason for concern, when in fact you have concluded that glyphosate poses a high, long-term risk to mammals in 12 out of 23 uses. This is surely highly concerning.”

MEPs also noted the EFSA’s analysis did not take into account the chemical’s impact on biodiversity, despite its link to an unprecedented collapse in pollinator populations. In the Committee hearing today, O’Sullivan added “Many of my constituents are very concerned about the impact of glyphosate on biodiversity, as it is not only toxic for herbs, but for all plants, fungi, algae and even bacteria.”

Under EU legislation glyphosate was approved for use in the EU until 15 December 2023. A renewal of that approval by the Commission and Member States will allow the weedkiller to stay on the shelves for another five years. A study released in January 2023 by the University of Galway found that one in four people in Ireland had traces of glyphosate in their urine samples, demonstrating that the chemical is not contained to the area where it is applied but is now general throughout society.

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