EU Commission Backs Down on Long-Term Glyphosate Approval, Seeks Last Minute Extension
Following a number of unsuccessful meetings on the long-term reauthorization of glyphosate in the European Union, the European Commission—the EU's executive arm—is now seeking an eleventh-hour extension of the controversial weedkiller's current approval.
Commission continues push for unrestricted #glyphosate use by labelling measure as temporary https://t.co/2tsxuEAvWq https://t.co/5w35YKuytv— Greenpeace EU (@Greenpeace EU)1464771191.0
Licensing of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s blockbuster herbicide Roundup, is set to expire on June 30. The commission initially sought to extend glyphosate's authorization in the EU's 28 member states for another 15 years, however, due to "a mutiny" from several EU states such as Italy, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany, the EU's head office decided to slash their proposed extension of glyphosate to 9 years.
The aforementioned nations—not to mention the roughly 1.5 million people who signed a petition calling on the commission to ban glyphosate—have mainly based their objection on the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) March 2015 assessment that the compound “probably” causes cancer in humans.
We could be on the verge of taking down #Monsanto's poisonous chemical empire. Sign & RT to ban #glyphosate now: https://t.co/QpmWKF1FEe— Mark Ruffalo (@Mark Ruffalo)1464716115.0
Last month, the commission's revised proposal of 9 years failed to secure the required majority among EU governments in a vote, so it postponed glyphosate re-approval for a later vote.
Now, in its latest attempt to find middle ground, the commission is proposing a temporary extension of EU authorization on glyphosate for up to 18 months to buy time for yet another study that will assess whether or not glyphosate causes cancer. European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement from Brussels today that the last word on glyphosate's EU-wide reauthorization belongs to the EU's Agency for Chemical Products (ECHA).
"This is why the commission proposes to ask ECHA for its scientific assessment on the carcinogenicity of the glyphosate and to extend the current approval of glyphosate until it receives ECHA's opinion," he said.
Andriukaitis stressed that the commission's proposals and decisions on glyphosate were based on the assessments from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German Federal institute for Risk Assessment which both concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic, and contradicting the decision from the IARC.
Experts from the 28 EU nations will now meet on June 6 to vote on the commission's latest proposal.
"In conclusion, I want to reiterate that the ball is now in the member states' court," Andriukaitis said.
However, EU sources explained to Reuters that the compromise could push member states to change their position on glyphosate's license renewal.
"If the new proposal fails to win support from the 28 EU nations, it will go to an appeal committee vote, although the compromise says the commission can take a decision regardless of what emerges from the committee," Reuters reported.
#Glyphosate | Commission proposes the way forward - Statement by @V_Andriukaitis Commissioner for Health&Food Safety https://t.co/BxIt1xt96w— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@European Commission 🇪🇺)1464774401.0
Andriukaitis pointed out that EU-wide glyphosate authorization doesn't mean that all member governments must oblige to its use.
“The member states who wish not to use glyphosate-based products have the possibility to restrict their use,” he said. “They do not need to hide behind the commission’s decision."
Beyond a temporary extension, Andriukaitis also proposed three other recommendations on how member states can use glyphosate in their territory:
- Ban a co-formulant called POE-tallowamine from glyphosate based products;
- Minimize the use in public parks, public playgrounds and gardens;
- Minimize the pre-harvest use of glyphosate.
“However," Andriukaitis said, "if there is no EU approval, member states have no choice anymore: the authorization expires on the July 1."
Should there be no extension, the commissioner warned that member states would have to withdraw the authorizations for plant protection products containing glyphosate from their market.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament's Green party has deemed the commissions' latest proposal as a sign that it is "backing down" on re-approval of glyphosate.
EU Commission backing down on #glyphosate today. Must be the beginning of the end https://t.co/IHAcpnKlh4 https://t.co/GYcISMjOtQ— Greens in the EP (@Greens in the EP)1464774994.0
"While it means an eleventh hour reprieve for glyphosate, this is hopefully only temporary and this should be the beginning of the end for this toxic product," Green party's environment and food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said in a statement.
"The EU will now have to finalize its assessment of the health risks with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor. However, glyphosate's devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban," he said. "The significant public mobilization and political opposition to reapproving glyphosate has been taken seriously by key EU governments and the commission has been sent back with its tail between its legs."
Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg also said in a statement it was "good to see that the commission is no longer pushing for a final decision based on questionable safety assurances by the EU food safety agency."
"But whether the license is for 15, nine or two years doesn't change anything in the real world," she continued. "The same amount of glyphosate will be sprayed in parks, playgrounds and private gardens, and in our fields, vineyards and apple groves. Glyphosate levels in our bodies won’t change either. The commission must take on board the concerns raised by independent scientists, the European Parliament and citizens by—at the very least—applying strict restrictions to limit human exposure."
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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