The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
EU Bans Glyphosate Co-Formulant, Restricts Use in Public Areas
Member state experts agreed to the following conditions:
- A ban of a co-formulant POE-tallowamine from glyphosate-based products
- Obligations to reinforce scrutiny of pre-harvest use of glyphosate
- Minimizing the use in specific areas such as public parks and playgrounds
The conditions will apply for the duration of the extension until the European Chemicals Agency issues an opinion on the product's safety.
"Member states will now need to adjust their national legislation to make sure that pesticides containing glyphosate do not contain POE-tallowamine," according to Euractiv.com.
Tallowamine, which aids the effectiveness of glyphosate, was once found in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. The inert ingredient was found to be "more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than [glyphosate] itself," Scientific American reported in 2009, citing a French study.
"This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert," the study authors from France's University of Caen wrote. "Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels" found on crops such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or on lawns and gardens sprayed with Roundup."
The EU's 28-member bloc has been deeply divided over glyphosate ever since the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the compound as a probable carcinogen in March 2015.
Two other regulatory agencies, however, have reached contradictory conclusions. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declared glyphosate as safe in November and the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization and a different regulatory body from the World Health Organization issued a joint report in May concluding that the ingredient is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet."
However, the EFSA made a very important admission in its report. Unlike the IARC, the Italy-based EFSA examined glyphosate alone, not glyphosate formulations. The adverse health effects of the herbicide, therefore, could be related to reactions with "other constituents or 'co-formulants,'" the report said.
Germany and France have previously restricted glyphosate and tallowamine formulations within their borders. This past April, France banned glyphosate mixed with tallowamine. The country's health and environmental government agency (ANES) said that "the co-formulants found in glyphosate preparations, tallowamine in particular, [raised] concerns."
Monsanto confirmed to Reuters that since they have shifted away from tallowamine the affect of the French ban would be "minimal," adding that the debate over glyphosate in Europe is "political." The agritech giant has long maintained the safety of their flagship product, which is also the world's most popular herbicide. The company also defended tallowamine-based products in that they "do not pose an imminent risk for human health when used according to instructions."
The bitter fight over glyphosate highlights the pesticide's uncertain fate in Europe. The commission initially proposed to relicense glyphosate for another 15 years ahead of its June 30 expiration, but after failing to secure majority approval from the member states after three votes in a row, the EU executive body was forced to give glyphosate a last-minute 18-month extension.
Monsanto could be hit big by an EU-wide ban on glyphosate. "The elimination of glyphosate sales in France by itself should not have a material effect on Monsanto, maybe $20 million of earnings impact. If it spreads to the rest of Europe the impact would be greater though, as Europe is a premium market; could lead to up to $100 million of earnings impact," Bernstein analyst Jonas Oxgaard told Reuters via email in April.
Opponents of glyphosate have applauded the EU's latest vote. "Despite the restrictions on use not being enforceable in law, Sustainable Pulse has been in contact with many of the Environment Ministries in Europe and we have been assured that serious measures will be taken in France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Malta, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and most likely in a number of other countries," Sustainable Pulse director Henry Rowlands said. "This is a huge step in the right direction and most European citizens now look forward to a full ban on the use of glyphosate herbicides in the near future."
"Our evaluation was a review of all the published scientific literature on glyphosate and this was done by the world's best experts on the topic that in addition don't have any conflicts of interest that could bias their assessment," Straif said.
"They concluded that, yes, glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans based on three strings of evidence, that is clear evidence of cancer in experimental animals, limited evidence for cancer for humans from real-world exposures, of exposed farmers, and also strong evidence that it can damage the genes from any kind of other toxicological studies."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›