EU to Issue Last-Minute 18 Month Extension for Glyphosate

After a series of failed attempts by EU member states to reach a consensus to renew authorization for glyphosate, the European Union Commission plans to issue an 18 month extension for the popular herbicide.

On Tuesday, just two days before EU authorization for glyphosate was set to expire, Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis committed to extending its current approval.

For Canada and other countries that export crops to the EU, the last-minute extension ends — or at least postpones — concerns about a potential trade disruption. If authorization was allowed to expire, import tolerances for glyphosate would revert to the default for any unapproved chemistry.

The EU’s maximum residue limits (MRLs) for glyphosate in canola, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, sunflowers, peas and lentils are currently set at 10 or 20 mg/kg. If glyphosate was deauthorized, they would drop to 0.1 mg/kg.

The EU Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Committee tried several times, but could not reach the qualified majority needed to renew or extend glyphosate’s license, including the original proposal to grant another 15 year authorization.

“I’m surprised about positions of some member states not to hear our proposals, but of course the Commission will follow our legal obligations…we will adopt an extension of glyphosate for 18 months,” said the commissioner.

The proposal to extend the current license, rather than re-authorizing glyphosate for another 15 years, sets an unwelcome precedent, said the Glyphosate Task Force, which represents companies that market glyphosate.

“The antagonism which has emerged from certain member states regarding glyphosate renewal is highly regrettable and a sad sign of how politically charged these processes have become,” noted GTF chair Richard Garnett in a statement.

The 18 month extension is expected to coincide with a report by the European Chemicals Agency looking at whether glyphosate is a carcinogen.

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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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