Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner expects an end to the use of glyphosate in the European Union from 2022 at the latest. “It is not to be expected that there will still be a majority for an extension of glyphosate approval after 2022,” the CDU politician told the “Tagesspiegel On Sunday”.
But before that it would not be possible to ban the weed killer in Germany. “European law states that a total national ban is not possible as long as glyphosate is authorized in the EU,” said the CDU politician.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) had repeatedly argued that a ban on national ban would violate EU law because the EU states had extended the approval of the controversial weed killer until the end of 2022.
Dispute between the ministries
A spokesman for her ministry said at the beginning of the month that the German withdrawal would take place “as agreed in the coalition agreement”, “by 2023 at the latest”. “We will finish most of the applications much earlier, and we will comply with applicable EU law.” Between the two ministries, the issue is heavily controversial.
Glyphosate – The most important thing at a glance
Carcinogenic or not carcinogenic?
Authorities worldwide have assessed the risks of glyphosate to the population when used properly. To a result that the substance not carcinogenic be, come among other things:
- the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
- the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa)
- the US Environmental Protection Agency EPA
- the Canadian assessment authority Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)
- Australia's Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
- the Japanese Food Safety Commission
- the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency EPA
- the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and
- the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
By contrast, WHO's Cancer Agency IARC concluded in 2015 that glyphosate “probably carcinogenic” be. However, the institution only examines whether a substance is fundamentally capable of causing cancer. It does not assess how great this danger is and whether there is a concrete risk for the population. The IARC also classifies the hairdressing profession and the consumption of hot drinks as “probably carcinogenic”, sunbeams and alcohol as “safely carcinogenic”.
Manipulation allegations on all sides
Glyphosate advocates and opponents in the debate try to impose their interests by all means and weaken the other side. The overview:
– Glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto appears to have been trying to influence the decision-making process of the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa). To what extent this was successful is unclear. The company is also accused of having paid researchers for positive glyphosate reports. The company denies that.
– The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) accuse environmentalists to have copied passages from the application for approval of Monsanto. However, in the introduction to the relevant chapters, it is announced that sections of the application will be reproduced below and that the Authority has supplemented its own assessment, if necessary.
– A glycose critical assessment of the IARC (“probably carcinogenic”) involved an expert in conflicts of interest. Christopher Portier received at least $ 160,000 from US lawyers suing Monsanto on behalf of potential glyphosate victims.
– In addition, in a section of the IARC report, in several cases, the assessment of studies from “non-carcinogenic” to neutral or positive (“carcinogenic”) has been revised at the draft stage, according to Reuters news agency. The IARC denies that.
Glyphosate and insects
Glyphosate is mentioned again and again in connection with insect killing. In October 2017, researchers published a much-noticed study on insect wastage in Germany. A proof that pesticides are the cause, they did not find – especially as the investigation took place in nature reserves.
However, it is obvious that conventional agriculture with monocultures and pesticides plays a role in insect killing. However, reducing the problem to glyphosate alone is not enough.
In September 2018, researchers showed in a study that glyphosate can alter the intestinal flora of bees. In a 2015 study examining the effect of 42 common pesticides on honey bees, scientists ranked glyphosate 42nd in the list, the least toxic in comparison.
Glyphosate = Monsanto?
In connection with glyphosate is usually called Monsanto as a manufacturer. The company first brought the substance to market in the 1970s. However, the patent expired in 2000. Monsanto, which has since been acquired by Bayer, is still the market leader with a share of approximately 40 percent. In addition to the company, several dozen other companies worldwide offer glyphosate-containing herbicides.
In Germany, according to the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), 37 agents are currently approved with glyphosate, which are sold under 105 trade names.
Application in Germany
Plants take up glyphosate mainly through the leaves. From there, the active ingredient gets into the whole organism and blocks the production of amino acids. This causes the plant to die. In Germany, glyphosate comes on the field before the crop is sown. Otherwise not only the weeds, but also the sown plant would die off. Only in exceptional cases may glyphosate be used before harvesting.
Austria was the first country in the EU to ban the use of glyphosate at the beginning of July. It is debatable whether this is compatible with EU law.
Glyphosate has been the subject of fierce debate since 2015 at the latest. At that time, the IARC, a body of the World Health Organization (WHO), had classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic”. However, the IARC does not investigate whether an agent produces cancer in everyday use, but whether it is basically capable of doing so. The IARC also classifies the hairdressing profession and the consumption of hot drinks as “probably carcinogenic”.
Lawsuit against Bayer in the US
Authorities that assess the risks of everyday use do not see any risk of cancer – including the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) and the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), as the IARC is a WHO body.
Glyphosate was marketed by the present-day Bayer subsidiary Monsanto as a herbicide. In North America, the drug has been marketed since the 1970s under the Roundup brand name. The Bayer Group is facing a lawsuit in the US about possible health effects from glyphosate. Since the expiry of patent protection, glyphosate is also used in the funds of many other providers.
Previous attempts to ban the substance failed. Thus, the Austrian state of Carinthia had to withdraw a general ban. The “national feasibility study Glyphosate”, in which scientists from the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) evaluated 400 studies, also arouses skepticism about the prohibition.