This Tuesday, the European Commission has approved the registration of a European citizens' initiative that calls for a ban on glyphosate. Its organizers now have a year to collect a million signatures of people in favour of the proposal from at least seven countries in order to force Brussels to react three months later.
The initiative is asking the Community Executive to ban this herbicide, to reform the approval procedure and to set European targets for the compulsory reduction of its use.
It will be formally registered on 25 January, the date from which the one-year process to get the million signatures required will begin. The European Commission has stated that the decision on Tuesday only entails the admission that the proposal "is not manifestly outside" its powers, is not abusive, frivolous, vexatious or contrary to EU values.
If the promoters of this citizens' initiative finally manage to gather a million signatures from seven Member States, the European Commission will have three months to react. Brussels could in that case accept the proposal or not, although in both cases it would have to justify its position.
The renewal of the authorization for this chemical compound used in many herbicides is a controversial issue that is opposed by many environmental organizations. The last authorization expired on 30 June last year and, in the absence of a consensus among the EU countries in this regard, Brussels decided to extend the licence until 2018, pending further studies on its toxicity.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that glyphosate may be carcinogenic to humans. An opinion contrary to the position of the European Agency for Food Safety, which ruled out that exposure to this compound may cause cancer, but proposed to set maximum levels to control its intake through food.