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The organisers of the European Citizens’ Initiative to Ban Glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides, call on the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and European Commission to conclude the decision-making process for greater transparency of food safety decisions before the upcoming European election.
The transparency proposal is the European Commission’s first meaningful response to the demands of the 1.3 million citizens who joined our European Citizens’ Initiative. Citizens asked the Commission to ban glyphosate, reform the pesticide approval procedure and set mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. They asked specifically that all studies used to back up regulatory approval of pesticides be published.
We have applauded the European Commission’s intention to oblige the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to publish all industry studies on potentially harmful products, such as pesticides, GMOs or feed additives, as soon as it receives them. We have also pointed to weaknesses in the proposal, which would give companies too many opportunities to keep important information secret.
However, progress is being made. Apparently, the Council of Ministers not only wants to safeguard citizens’ existing rights to information upon request. It also wants to guarantee the publication of all information that relates to foreseeable effects on human health, animal health and the environment, and that EFSA refers to in its reports. The European Parliament is debating similar amendments.
While further improvements are needed, the overall direction is right.
The momentum is here for the European Union to enter a new era. Rather than relying on secret industry studies, all EU decisions on pesticides and other products, which are used in the production of our food and released into our environment, could be based only on published studies. Citizens and scientists could scrutinise the safety claims advanced by industry and public authorities, and come to their own conclusions.
It would be a shame if this critical opportunity to protect people’s health and the environment was wasted.
Finally, postponing the legislative work until the next Parliament would be a negative signal to EU citizens on the eve of the European elections. We therefore urge the three EU institutions to adopt the proposal before the end of this legislature.