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Concerns over health risks associated with Roundup have led the European Parliament to vote for a ban of all glyphosate-based herbicides by 2022, and for immediate restrictions to be placed on the popular weed killer.
The vote is advisory only at this stage, and comes in opposition to European Commission plans to renew the license for glyphosate use across Europe
The non-binding action calls for glyphosate to be completely banned by December 15, 2022, and a number of intermediate steps that should begin immediately, according to a press release issued on October 24 by the European Parliament.
The members of parliament voted 355 to 204 in favor of the Roundup ban, with 111 members abstaining. The member states of the European Union will vote on the European Commission’s plan to renew authorization for glyphosate on Wednesday.
The full parliament vote came after recommendations by the EU’s Environment and Public Health Committee on October 19, which also called for the ban. France will likely be a key vote in determining the fate of the renewal, and the country has already said it intends to vote against the re-authorization. However, France has suggested it may be amiable to a shorter time period for the license.
Questions about the safety of Roundup have gained global attention following a decision by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in March 2015, which declared that the weed killer’s active ingredient glyphosate was a probably carcinogen.
The parliament and its environment committee noted that recent events raised questions about whether the EU Food Safety Agency (EFSA) or its chemical agency could be trusted to evaluate glyphosate following the release of documents suggesting they had been influenced by Monsanto.
Earlier this month, all Monsanto lobbyists were banned from contacting EU MEPs or attending committees after the company refused to attend a hearing on whether it had unduly influenced EU officials.
The meeting came after the release of documents, known as the “Monsanto Papers,” which suggest that Monsanto had a very substantial influence over regulators, and in some cases wrote portions of Roundup safety reviews.
The documents came to light as part of ongoing litigation in the U.S., where Monsanto faces a growing number of Roundup lawsuits filed by individuals who say they contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other forms of cancer following years of Roundup exposure.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits In the U.S.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all federal Roundup cases in the American federal court system, centralizing the claims before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery, prevent conflicting rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Chhabria has previously determined that the Roundup litigation will be bifurcated, first addressing general causation about the link between the widely used weedkiller and non-Hodgkins lymphoma during a hearing in December 2017, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.
Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup settlement or other resolution for the litigation is not reached during the first phase of discovery, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will establish a bellwether process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the lawsuits.