Pesticides: EU sets up special committee

The European Parliament has adopted the mandate of a special committee to look into the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides.

Commenting on the setting up a special committee today, Frédérique Ries MEP ALDE said:I welcome the formation of this special committee. The EU has achieved and maintained the highest food safety standards in the world, but there are a number of issues concerning the authorisation procedure for pesticides in the Union that need review. Most importantly, the transparency of scientific studies and related raw data has not been guaranteed, while the relevant EU agencies lack resources to conduct research on their own and ensure that our food is safe and the environment protected:  the EFSA budget for 2017 is €80 million to be compared with the European Medicines Agency’s budget of €322 million.”

The special committee is a response to concerns raised about the risk posed by the herbicide substance glyphosate. The herbicide had its marketing licence renewed by EU member states for five years in November last year.


The special committee is to assess:


  • the authorisation procedure for pesticides in the EU;


  • potential failures in how substances are scientifically evaluated and approved;


  • the role of the European Commission in renewing the glyphosate licence;


  • possible conflicts of interest in the approval procedure;


  • the role of EU agencies, and whether they are adequately staffed and financed to fulfil their obligations.


The term of the special committee, which will have 30 members, is to be nine months from its first meeting. It will deliver a final report of its factual findings and recommendations, to be approved by the full House.

In a resolution voted on in October, Parliament stated that the release of the so-called “Monsanto Papers”, internal documents from the company which owns and produces Roundup®, of which glyphosate is the main active substance, shed doubt on the credibility of some studies used in the EU evaluation on glyphosate safety, say MEPs.

The EU’s authorisation procedure, including the scientific evaluation of substances, should be based only on published, peer-reviewed and independent studies commissioned by competent public authorities, MEPs said. EU agencies should be beefed up in order to allow them to work in this way.

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