The EU resolves the dispute over the main glyphosate herbicide


  Fumigation of crops in Meteren, northern France Image copyright

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Fumigation in Meteren, northern France: glyphosate can have a major impact on the biodiversity

EU countries voted to renew the license of glyphosate, a widely used herbicide at the center of environmental concerns.

The proposal in the Appeals Committee of the EU Commission obtained 18 votes in favor and nine against, with one abstention, final months of stalemate.

The Commission says that the new five-year license will be ready before the current one expires on December 15.

Glyphosate is marketed as Roundup by the American agrochemical giant Monsanto.

A study by the UN the chemical "probably carcinogenic", but other scientists said it was safe to use.

The United Kingdom is one of the states that supports the position of the commission on glyphosate.

The EU Commission says that the current proposal on the herbicide "has the broadest possible support from the Member States, while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment "

Glyphosate was introduced by Monsanto in 1974, but its patent expired in 2000, and now the chemical is sold by several manufacturers.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

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Monsanto's Roundup, based on glyphosate, has been sold worldwide

Critics say that the widespread use of glyphosate reduces biodiversity by killing plants that are essential for many insects and other animals.

Some countries and regions have banned the use of glyphosate in public parks and gardens. Its effect on plants is not selective, which means that it will kill most of them when applied.

Read more about agricultural chemicals:

How does glyphosate work?

It is usually mixed with other chemicals that help enter plants, where it blocks a key pathway of the enzyme. The interruption prevents plants from producing certain proteins necessary for their growth.

The "shikimate pathway" involves seven enzymes, which allow the plant to form amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The road is not found in animals.

Some crops, such as soybeans, have been genetically modified to resist glyphosate.

Farmers spray it in the fields before their crops emerge in spring, so crops do not have to compete with weeds.

Some also use it as a pre-harvest treatment to dry the crops and facilitate their harvesting. The Soil Association of the United Kingdom says that such use is risky, as it can increase glyphosate residues in food.

How widespread is it?

It is described as the most popular herbicide in the world. In the USA UU., More than 750 products contain it.

The use of glyphosate worldwide has increased almost 15 times since 1996, when so-called "Roundup Ready" crops, genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, were introduced.

A 2016 study by Environmental Sciences Europe notes growing concern about glyphosate intensive use, because some plants have developed resistance to it, which means that farmers tend to use even more herbicides.

Sri Lanka banned the use of glyphosate in 2015, although the tea industry opposes the ban. In 2015, Colombia also stopped aerial spraying of glyphosate, even though it had been widely used to kill illegal coca plants.

What is the effect on humans?

The toxicity of glyphosate is calculated low in the concentrations used by farmers, although the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer called it "probably carcinogenic".

The European Commission says that in addition to EFSA, the European Chemicals Agency and other scientific bodies found no link to cancer in humans.

The Soil Association says that traces of glyphosate are regularly found in bread.

According to the National Center for Pesticide Information, the chemical pbades quickly through the body in the urine and feces.

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