Austria Votes to Ban Glyphosate

Glyphosate may have the majority of scientific evidence behind its safety record, but governmental support in some countries doesn’t seem to be following suit. Last week, the government of Austria voted to enact a total ban on the use of the popular herbicide.

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“The scientific evidence for the plant poison’s carcinogenic effect is increasing,” said Pamela Rendi-Wagner, the leader of the country’s Social Democrats and sponsor of the bill to ban glyphosate, in a released statement, referencing the one 2015 World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer report that said that the herbicide was a probably carcinogenic. “It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment.”

If the new bill is passed, the ban would take effect starting on January 1, 2020. However, many legal experts believe such a ban by Austria would conflict with established European Union (EU) law because glyphosate has been approved for use by member states until December 2022. For its part, Bayer responded to the ban with a statement saying that it expects the European Commission to review the Austrian decision “critically, as it may be inconsistent with mandatory legal and procedural requirements and scientific reasoning.”

Will other countries follow Austria's glyphosate ban example?

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Now in the grand scheme of things, Austria’s usage of glyphosate is almost negligible, since most of the country’s farming tends to employ organic practices. However, for Bayer, the fear would be if other European countries copied this approach that runs contrary to established EU laws. For instance, France has gone as record saying it wants to ban glyphosate use in its country. Other EU members however, such as Ireland, have said their legislative and regulatory bodies will continue to rely on “expert guidance and monitor international peer-reviewed scientific evidence” regarding glyphosate usage in its country.

It will be interesting to see how all this glyphosate usage debate plays out throughout the EU over the next few months. However, no matter what ultimately happens, the attacks against the popular herbicide are likely to continue for some time to come . . .

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