BRUSSELS – European Union countries voted on Monday in favor of renewing a license for a controversial herbicide at the heart of a year-long debate over its unclear status as a potential carcinogen.
A total of 18 of the 28 member states voted in favor of signing a five-year renewal for the use of glyphosate, a component of the widely-used Roundup weedkiller manufactured by American company Monsanto, while nine countries voted against it and one abstained.
“Today’s vote shows that when we all want and put effort in it, we are able to accept and to share our collective responsibility in decision making,” the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis said of the result.
The glyphosate license review, which is to be officially adopted on Dec. 15, was threatened by a lack of consensus between EU nations after a recent United Nations study branded it as “probably carcinogenic.”
Those findings were downplayed by the European Food Safety Authority, however, and despite protests against its use, a last minute change of tack from Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania passed the proposal to renew the chemical’s authorization at the European Commission’s Appeal Committee.
Belgium, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta and Austria all voted against the proposal, while Portugal abstained.
Luxembourg’s environment minister, Carole Dieschbourg, tweeted against glyphosate’s renewal and insisted the fight against the herbicide would go on.
Groups of protesters took the occasion to gather outside the Commission building in Brussels, calling for a ban on the weedkiller, as documented by an epa photographer at the scene.