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The European Union is expected to grant at least a one-year extension to the licensing of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, despite concerns by some member states that side effects of Roundup exposure may increase the risk of cancer.
Officials in the EU’s regulatory arm, the European Commission, told European media on Tuesday that the commission will adopt an extension today for the glyphosate license, which would extend it 12 to 18 months, after numerous other efforts to get the license renewed failed. The deadline for the current license is June 30.
The extension is being granted to allow glyphosate to continue to be used on European crops, while a safety review is performed to see if the herbicide poses an unreasonable health risk or environmental harm.
Concerns about Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide rose worldwide after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned in March 2015 that glyphosate is a likely cancer-causing agent.
Following the IARC report, several major European countries called for much more extensive safety studies of glyphosate, the most popular and widely used herbicide on the planet, or outright bans on its use due to fears of a potential link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as other forms of cancer.
Due to objections from several member states, the European executive called for a 12 to 18 month extension on the license to give time for a further study by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) into Roundup side effects and potential health risks. The normal license renewal lasts for 15 years.
However, votes by an EU panel and an appeals committee failed to get the license renewed.
The move is likely to anger some EU members, including France, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands, who have all called for restrictions or bans on glyphosate. But the Commission is allowed to grant the extension due to the failure of the previous votes. In addition, the decision comes shortly after the U.K. voted to leave the EU based, in part, on complaints about sovereignty questions and regulations.
Roundup Lawsuits In the U.S.
A recent U.S. Geological Survey on glyphosate usage nationwide found that an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide has been sprayed on America’s agricultural land over the two decades since the mid-1990s, when Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops that are designed to survive being sprayed with glyphosate, killing the weeds but not the crops.
In all that time, the FDA has never tested for residue or buildup in the food sold to Americans nationwide. In a report published in 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the FDA for this deficiency in its pesticide program.
Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits in the United States, typically involving individuals diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following heavy exposure to the herbicide as a farm or agricultural worker.
The complaints allege that plaintiffs may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if they had been warned about the Roundup risks for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.