French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Monday that France intended to phase out glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The chemical was deemed a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization in 2015.
In response to worries from French farmers regarding the repercussions of an outright ban on glyphosate, Philippe called for farm and environment ministries to propose a plan to phase the chemical out slowly, likely within the next five to seven years, according to French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert.
French farmers reacted positively to this statement, with Christiane Lambert, head of France’s largest farm union, FNSEA, telling Reuters that it indicated the government was “starting to understand that a full ban would be impossible to apply in France."
"This is already an easing in position,” she said.
A source inside France's Ministry of Environment told Reuters last month that France would be voting against the renewal of the chemical's European license.
About 300 French farmers took to the Champs-Elysées in protest of an outright ban Friday. The FNSEA claimed that given that there was no current alternative to the herbicide, a total ban placed French farmers at a severe disadvantage within Europe and around the world.
The European Commission proposed an 18-month extension of the license for glyphosate at the end of June after a March study released by the European Chemical Agency claimed that glyphosate should not be classified as a cancer-causing substance. A forthcoming vote to either renew glyphosate's license for the next ten years or ban it outright was originally expected on October 5 or 6, though it has been postponed for at least a month, a Commission source told Reuters.
If the license is not renewed before the end of the year, an automatic ban will kick in on January 1, 2018.
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