Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
Brussels, 27 November 2017 – Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, was reauthorized for a period of five years on the European market today (1). The decision was taken by representatives of European governments following seven failed attempts to come to a compromise on proposals put forward by the European Commission over the last year and a half and amidst strong political and public discontent.
The agreement foresees a five-year reauthorisation of the herbicide, thereby also ignoring a European Parliament resolution adopted with majority support last month. The resolution demands a full glyphosate exit by 2022 and immediate restrictions for public spaces, including public playgrounds and public parks, in which vulnerable groups such as children are particularly exposed (2).
Genon K. Jensen, HEAL’s executive director said: “European governments failed European citizens and future generations today by granting the world’s most widely used weed killer a new license to harm our health and our environment, rather than setting a date to ban glyphosate once and for all.”
“Ignoring well-founded concerns about glyphosate’s impacts on human health and the European evaluation process will further damage the image of the European Union at a time of already high distrust. Putting health first today and for future generations could make Europe a frontrunner of the transition towards a more sustainable agriculture and healthier planet, as well as reduce the risk of cancer, which causes 1.75 million deaths in Europe each year (3).”
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is one of the initiators of the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) that is asking for a ban on glyphosate and a reform of the EU pesticides authorisation system and has already been signed by 1.3 million citizens (4). Together with our members, we will continue to advocate on the public health advantages of reducing toxic pesticides in farming across Europe, support affected farmers suffering from health problems (5), engage in national campaigns to restrict their use, and promote independent scientific research about the adverse health and environment effects of such toxic substances. HEAL will also actively follow the outcome of an ongoing case at the European Court of Justice, whereby the Court has been asked to assess whether the current risk assessment process for pesticides respects the precautionary principle in order to properly protect human health and the environment (6).