According to the BBC, the EU has voted to renew the license for glyphosate for a period of five years. There have been calls to ban the pesticide throughout Europe, but this decision keeps glyphosate’s status legal. It does not, however, compel the individual nations within the EU from making their own decisions on the pesticide’s use.
Glyphosate, currently the world’s most popular herbicide, is a broad-use treatment that kills a wide variety of weeds. It is typically paired with crops, like soy or corn, that have been genetically modified to resist it; otherwise, glyphosate would harm those plants just as aggressively it’s intended targets.
The pesticide has been extremely controversial on multiple levels in recent years. A study from the World Health Organization dubbed it a “probable carcinogen,” while other studies have found minimal evidence for a link between glyphosate and cancer in humans. On the environmental side, evidence has linked glyphosate use to the decline in honeybee populations, as well as to the rise of “superweeds.” (Weeds, being hardy and adaptable, have developed resistance to glyphosate, requiring the use of ever more quantities and/or varieties of herbicides.)
Of the 28 votes in the EU commission, 18 voted to renew glyphosate’s legality, nine voted against, and one – Portugal – abstained. Among the countries that voted to ban glyphosate is France, whose president, Emmanuel Macron, vowed to ban it within his own country. It’s already banned in Sri Lanka and El Salvador.