Glyphosate – the controversial key ingredient and “probable carcinogen” in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup – will stay on European shelves, for now.
Just hours before a scheduled recall, the European Commission voted to extend the sale of the chemical for another 18 months until the European Chemical Agency gives it a new safety ruling.
A campaign on activist website Avaaz collected 2 million signatures asking health officials not to reauthorize the sale of glyphosate, and a poll shows that two-thirds of Europeans support a glyphosate ban.
In response to public backlash against the product, the European Commission laid out conditions for its use – including the ban of a co-formulant with glyphosate-based products and minimized use of glyphosate in public parks and playgrounds – though those conditions are non-binding in the EU.
More than 6 billion tons of glyphosate has been sprayed on farms and public spaces in the past 10 years, and sales of the product account for almost a third of Monsanto’s earnings.
Seven EU states already have a glyphosate ban in place, two have restrictions, and four have impending or potential bans.
The European Chemical Agency has until the end of 2017 to provide a ruling.