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Monsanto Banned from E.U. Parliament as Glyphosate Debate Continues

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The debate over the safety of Roundup and its main herbicide, glyphosate, continues in Europe. The vote to extend the license for the herbicide was delayed in May 2017, as scientists and environmental groups work to determine whether the product is safe enough to continue using.

Though the original idea was to extend the license for 15 years, the European Parliament recently recommended that the period be shortened to only seven years. Farmers are allowed to continue using Roundup through the end of 2017, while the authorities review the evidence.

Meanwhile, according to a press release from the Greens European Free Alliance (EFA), a political party in the E.U., leaders in the European Parliament have banned lobbyists and other representatives from Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer, from meeting parliament members, attending committee meetings, and using digital resources on parliament premises. This occurred after the company refused to attend a hearing on the so-called “Monsanto Papers.”

Monsanto Refuses to Attend Hearing on Safety of Glyphosate

On October 9, 2017, the European Parliament’s Environment and Agricultural committees held a public hearing on the Monsanto Papers. These were documents that were released during pre-trial proceedings in U.S. Roundup lawsuits, and included communications suggesting that Monsanto employees had manipulated data, ghostwritten scientific studies, and influenced government bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in favor of their product.

The parliament invited Monsanto to come and defend itself, but no representatives showed up. The company’s External Affairs Lead, Chemistry, Sam Murphey, stated that they chose not to participate in an event “designed with the intent of undermining the scientific credibility of Europe’s regulatory bodies.”

The EFA then requested that the parliament withdraw access for Monsanto representatives, stating that “Those who escape democratic accountability must be excluded from access to lobbying.”

Safety Debate Based on Conflicting Findings

The debate over glyphosate’s safety is based on conflicting findings from various organizations. In 2015, for example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen. A few months later, however, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contradicted those findings, reporting that glyphosate was unlikely to be carcinogenic.

Then, a recent report from U.K. news outlet The Guardian revealed that the report the EFSA relied on in reaching its conclusions contained copied and pasted analyses pulled directly from a Monsanto study. An EFSA representative stated that these were extracts from and references to publicly available studies that anyone could have access to, but yet the paper repeated analyses verbatim from Monsanto employees.

The Monsanto papers have added to the debate, with evidence suggesting that the company worked with the EPA to delay reports that would have cast glyphosate in a more negative light, and ghostwrote scientific reviews on the herbicide that were allegedly prepared by “independent” researchers.

Vote on Glyphosate Expected in Late 2017

The vote in the EU about the use of glyphosate is expected to take place later in 2017. Government representatives from France have already indicated that they will vote against the extension of the license, which could make it impossible for the product to attain approval.

Hundreds of individuals who have used Roundup for years in the U.S. and then developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or related types of cancer have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, seeking compensation for medical costs and lost wages.

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