European commission extends license by 18 months

The European commission has temporarily extended approval for the widely-used herbicide glyphosate until the end of 2017. The approval was scheduled for routine review. However, as the commission stated: ‘member states were not prepared to take responsibility for a decision,’ so it has granted a temporary extension to approval.

The debate is being complicated by conflicting views on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity from official bodies. While reports identify a possible cancer-causing hazard from the product, consensus from several other reports is that the risk to human health under likely exposure conditions is negligible. The commission expects a further report from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to be complete in time to inform the decision in 2017.

The decision has pleased neither industry – which was hoping for a more definite long-term extension of the approval – nor environmental groups who are seeking a ban.