In the coming weeks, the Netherlands will not speak out in the European Union in favor of a ban on the use of glyphosate in agriculture and horticulture.
The House of Representatives has asked to do this in a motion, but Agriculture Minister Piet Adema is keeping a low profile and says that he first wants to study the new EU proposal carefully.
To prevent the use of glyphosate in European agriculture and horticulture from having to be 'temporarily extended by one year', the European Commission is sticking to a strict timetable this time. The kick-off will be held on Friday, September 22, in the Standing Committee on Plant Health Legislation (SCoPAFF).
“I will only take a final position after receiving the proposal. I will also ask advice from the Board for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb)," Adema explains. The subject is therefore not on the agenda for the monthly LNV ministerial meeting in Brussels.
Adema writes to the House that the outgoing cabinet will 'afterwards' take a position on the choice presented to us by the EC. The adopted parliamentary motion will of course play a major role in the cabinet's assessment, Adema says.
Brussels already sent a draft to the EU member states in July for the extension of use; the current authorization expires at the end of this year. The SCoPAFF committee is considered expert advice; not as a political decision. This proposal to the Committee shows that the European Commission wants the use to continue for a period of 5 years.
The EC proposal will be discussed for the first time at the SCoPAFF meeting at the end of September. There will be no voting there. The Dutch representative will indicate that The Hague wants to first study the proposal before taking a substantive position.
'Of course, the Netherlands will indicate in this meeting that parliament has requested the cabinet to vote against the reapproval of glyphosate. The vote on the re-approval of glyphosate is expected to take place (in the EU-LNV Council – ed) on October 13. I will of course inform your House of my position prior to this vote.'
It is already known that Germany and Austria will vote against. A 'qualified majority' is required for both a ban and a continuation; at least fifteen of the 27 EU member states, with at least 65 percent of the total number of inhabitants.
The European Commission bases re-approval on a positive report from the European Food Authority (EFSA) and a risk assessment from the chemicals agency ECHA. After an exceptionally long review of numerous studies, they concluded that glyphosate poses no risk to the environment or human health. The first question now is whether the SCoPAFF committee considers this sufficient.
In theory, the European LNV ministers can still aim for a shorter, temporary (continued) authorization, for example of two or three years. In that case, they will effectively pass the issue on to the new European Commission, after the elections in June next year. In that case, the consent of the European Parliament is required.
In the ENVI Environment Committee of the European Parliament it recently emerged that proponents and opponents (from the right versus the left) are approximately in balance, with the (divided) liberal group being able to be the deciding factor. The Committee on Agriculture is in favour. This also applies to the authorization of new GMO techniques such as CRISPR-CAS. The Netherlands is in favor of that, but there is no certainty about this in the EU either.