Fears that the Proposed EU Ban on Glyphosate could Disrupt Trade

EU countries are preparing for a potential ban on the commonly used weed killer “Glyphosate”. This is a ban that would affect the exports of crops from some of the EU’s most important trading partners including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand. The countries most affected are pushing for answers as it’s becoming less likely that the licenses, which are due to run out at the end of 2017, will be renewed going forward.  

The future of exports to EU countries is uncertain, as the EU looks to make moves to improve public health and protect the environment. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, has claimed that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic.” However, experts seem undecided on the subject with the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency both claiming that glyphosate is safe.

Despite the worries over the safety of glyphosate, it’s currently used widely throughout Europe and globally, and the idea of a ban is causing major concerns among the EU’s trade partners. The main concern being that if the EU stops farmers from using glyphosate, it could also become much more difficult for EU countries to continue importing food which has been grown using it as a pesticide. A ban would mean countries having to restrict products which contain the chemical, affecting a large amount of the EU’s imports.

The biggest exporters to the EU are raising concerns over the effects a ban could have on trade relationships. Adrián Serra – head of trade at Mission of Argentina recently stated that “following the development of the renewal for the authorization of glyphosate very closely, and is also taking some steps within its reach that could serve to ensure that the right decision is made” Ricardo Buryaile, the Argentine Agriculture Minister has also written to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and European Commissioner for Health to express his concerns.

The concerns raised by Argentina have been echoed by other major trade partners including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile and New Zealand. Countries that rely on EU trade are uncertain as to their future trading relationships. The World Trade Organization’s Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures also claims that there are “concerns regarding the immediate impact on trade of agricultural products if the authorization [for glyphosate] was not further renewed.”

EU scientists have been in disagreement for some time over the safety of glyphosate.  With ongoing concerns among healthcare professionals, countries exporting to the EU will have to wait for the news regarding the decision over its ongoing use in European countries. Although a ban could technically be easy to enforce according to regulations, with the long term impact on trade, there are huge doubts over whether it’s sustainable economically.

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