Feasibility study on glyphosate: total ban in Austria impossible

Vienna – A total ban of glyphosate weed killer is not possible in Austria as this would violate EU legislation. However, the use of individual products can be – as clearly – limited. This is the main result of BOKU's "national feasibility study on glyphosate". In addition, no increased risk of other comparable pesticides has been found.

For the study, 400 existing studies were reevaluated by scientists from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in cooperation with the Agency of Health and Food Safety (AGES). Workshops with experts and model analyzes also took place. Siegrid Steinkellner, author of the study and head of the Crop Protection Department at BOKU, explained Monday the EU during a thorough discussion on the active ingredient, glyphosate.

"Night work, hot drinks and red meat"

The effects of glyphosate are controversial: for example, if the European Food Authority EFSA considers the pesticide to be harmless, it has been classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Steinkellner pointed out that on this list – along with other chemicals – there was also night work, hot drinks and red meat. "Who grilled on the weekend exposed many dangers," said the scientist.

Therefore, the cornerstones of the feasibility study do not consider glyphosate as more dangerous than comparable pesticides. The residue data for the available products indicated "no danger to human health". Out of 1,124 food samples from conventional production in Austria, a sample (honey) was above the MRL. In 92% of the samples, no residue was determinable.

Prohibition no, restriction yes

In addition, there is no evidence that "glyphosate affects biodiversity more than other weed control measures". "Studies analyzed on the effects of glyphosate on plants, micro-organisms and animals do not provide substantiated inference of a decline in biodiversity due to the use of glyphosate," says The report.

According to the study, there are also "no alternative herbicides with comparable effectiveness" in agriculture. The results of the modeling showed that alternative treatments have negative economic effects. Changes in the contribution margin to the application areas would therefore be minus 9% under favorable conditions, minus 36% under moderate conditions and minus 74% under unfavorable conditions.

The total ban is not legally possible: an "individual national effort" would only be possible under two conditions. New scientific evidence that was not known when glyphosate was approved by the EU as a whole in 2017 would have to be presented. Or, it may be necessary to prove problems. specific, for example, for the environment or health, which exist only in Austria, but in no other EU Member State.

However, the feasibility study admits that the use of glyphosate may be restricted. Although the active substance can not be banned, the use of individual products – for example in private use – may be restricted.

The fact that the study was presented on the eve of the vote on the prohibition of glyphosate at the National Council was, according to Steinkellner, unanticipated. The team worked "under high pressure" for a year, the director published the study Friday. Then you wanted to communicate the results "as soon as possible".

Transparent political maneuver

Naturally, this differs for the Greenpeace environmental protection organization. "The publication of the so-called feasibility study on the eve of the decisive vote on a total ban on glyphosate in Parliament is an easily understandable political maneuver," Greenpeace glyphosate expert Sebastian Theissing-Matei said on Monday. A legal opinion was also published with the study, which had already been completed on December 9, 2017 – a note at the end of the document. Since then, new scientific discoveries about the danger of glyphosate have been found. The report is therefore no longer on schedule.

During the glyphosate approval process, the European Commission has guaranteed that EU countries could adopt national bans. Whatever the case may be, the call for a complete ban on glyphosate, as it will be voted on Tuesday, is legally consistent, Greenpeace said. The application provides for the possibility of an objection from the European Commission under the "notification". As a result, the complete ban would only come into force in Austria after the official approval of the European Commission. (APA, TT.com)