Glyphosate on hold

A decision postponed

The majorities needed to extend for another decade the authorization to use glyphosate in the 27 countries of the European Union (EU) were not reached, and we must now wait another month to see what will happen with a substance that an increasing number of independent scientific studies have found to be potentially carcinogenic, but that the European Commission (EC) claims is harmless to humans.

Daniel Gatti

01 | 11 | 2023

Image: Allan McDonald | Rel UITA

The vote of at least 15 of the 27 countries members of the European Union was needed to pass a resolution, either in favor or against the European Commission’s proposal to renew glyphosate permits for another ten years. But those countries also had to make up 65 percent of the EU’s population.

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed failed to reach that majority and the decision is now up to the Appeal Committee, which will have to vote on the matter in mid-November.

If the required majority is not reached there either, the EC will be free to decide on its own. This would mean bad news, as according to a July 2023 report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU’s executive body is in favor of extending glyphosate’s life.

In the October 13 vote, the members in favor of the Commission’s proposal outvoted those against it (with 17 in 27 voting in favor), but since they only represent 55 percent of the EU’s population, the proposal did not pass.

While the two countries with the largest population (and also the two most powerful) in the EU (Germany and France) both abstained, they disagree on the substance of the matter.

France approves the EFSA report, but calls for the glyphosate authorization to be extended for a period of seven years, instead of ten, and for certain mandatory restrictions to be applied to all member states.

Germany, instead, calls for the substance to be banned, a decision it has already adopted for its own territory. It is not clear at this moment why it chose to abstain.


In the days leading up to this vote, France saw large protests against the government’s decision to give the companies that manufacture this poison carte blanche.

Organizations of small farmers, environmentalists, and independent scientists have been asking themselves why in the past few months the French government decided to backtrack on its promise to ban glyphosate, a promise Emmanuel Macron had announced in 2017, right after he was elected president.

They brought up a very recent report by the Compensation Fund for Victims of Pesticides (FIVP), an official body, which in 2022 recognized that there was “a possible causal link” between the malformations that a 16-year-old boy has presented since birth and his mother’s use of glyphosate when she was pregnant with him.

In March 2022, FIVP agreed to pay 1000 euros a month in compensation to Théo Grataloup, a teenager who, starting at a very young age, has undergone more than 50 surgeries to reconstruct his respiratory and digestive systems, which were affected by Glyper, a glyphosate-based herbicide that his mother inhaled for years.

Théo’s mother, Sabine Grataloup, only made that decision public a few weeks ago, when she learned that the French government was set to support the renewal of the glyphosate authorization.

“Every year, as part of my job as horse ride organizer, I had to use a glyphosate-based weed killer on our riding arena. It’s a sandy area of about 700 square meters. And it took me several days to do it every time. And that’s when Théo was in my belly, it was the beginning of my pregnancy and that’s exactly when Théo’s larynx, trachea and esophagus were malformed.”

And she continued angrily: “It is unbearable to see politicians, journalists, and opinion leaders now defending the renewal of glyphosate, claiming that science has spoken and found that this is not a problematic product.”