Viewpoint: EU’s glyphosate herbicide fight reveals limits of Europe-wide governance

| | December 8, 2017
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Glyphosate, the ubiquitous herbicide, may not really be poison, but it could well be the most politicized substance in Europe. In recent days, a glyphosate controversy has revealed much about the continent’s decision-making processes.

Most European countries don’t allow the cultivation of genetically-modified crops. But glyphosate, the effective weed killer produced by U.S.-based Monsanto specifically for those kinds of crops, just survived another round of approvals.

Which countries ban glyphosate and when depends most of all on the strength of farming lobbies. So far, glyphosate has been hard to replace: Other herbicides just aren’t as effective or as easy on the soil, and the best of the alternatives are more expensive to boot.

Related article:  Do you really understand modern farming? Scientist examines 10 truths of GMOs and organics

The current fudge — a cautious five-year extension with an easy loophole for unwilling member states — is a typical European compromise involving national political actors, big corporations, farmers, Brussels technocrats and the noisy but insufficiently empowered European Parliament. It’s a decision that pleases few people but checks a box and makes an issue go away for a while. In the end, it’s up to market players such as Bayer, Monsanto and their competitors to develop a suitable replacement for glyphosate. They should hurry up: Five years isn’t a long time, and the debate won’t be any less fraught next time around.

Read full, original post: Why Europe Is Literally Stuck in the Weeds

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