GlyphoSafe: Eight points for European Commissioner Andriukaitis on Glyphosate

See the French translation

Dear Dr Andriukaitis,

Today the European Chemicals Agency declared that glyphosate was not a carcinogen and there was no need to change the chemical’s CMR classification. This is what the scientific community (outside of a few activists funded by NGOs) had been saying for the last four decades, what EFSA and the BfR had been reminding everyone and what farmers have been screaming for regulators to recognise and accept. Now the ball is back in your court! And in that context, I would like to outline eight key points for you to consider in the coming steps.

  • Safe = Safe: EFSA, the BfR and now ECHA are very clear on the science: glyphosate is safe. Do not play politics with other stakeholders or try to give them a concession or compromise in order to push through an authorisation. You need to respect that when scientists say something is safe, they mean safe!
  • There is no word “compromise” in the activist lexicon: If you were to give the organic industry funded NGOs a concession, say, banning pre-harvest use of glyphosate, it would not stop there. In two weeks they would be back at you demanding more restrictions and presenting more bad science and contrived scandals. NGO groups need to accept the science and go fear-monger somewhere else.
  • You need to show courage: These NGOs are relentless and will attack you personally. They don’t operate according to codes of ethical conduct and you can expect them to rip into your character. Nobody should be subject to such treatment, but you need to be strong – these activists attack when they smell weakness.
  • You need to stand up for science: In the Age of Stupid, activists feel they have the right to demand that regulators define policy according to their fear-driven dogma. Soon the European Commission will be under pressure to ban vaccines or other medical treatments. You need to draw the line on these fundamentalist zealots and ensure that EU policy is driven by science and not activist dogma (no matter how many people they can terrify on social media).
  • You need to be a leader: You will have to be the one to sell glyphosate to the Member States. It is the herbicide of the century that has allowed farmers to advance farming with less labour (and fewer children) in the fields, increase yields and avoid weed crises for over 40 years. Now farmers are relying on glyphosate for no-till conservation agriculture and sophisticated cover cropping that can protect and restore soil. It is the best ecological solution for arable farming! You need to stand up for farmers against those in certain Member States who will repeat the non-scientific mantras of the activists and organic food lobbyists.
  • Farmers need to know they can trust you: Farmers plan crop rotations over a three to five year timeframe. They need to know that they can have access to vital tools to enable themselves, to bring in the harvest and, yes, to feed Europe. Don’t play politics with their livelihoods! Glyphosate is and has always been about allowing farmers to continue to use an important agri-tech tool. It is not about Ségolène Royal’s opinion of herself or about what people think about Monsanto or GMOs.
  • It is about honesty: The groups that have been fear-mongering against glyphosate are, sorry to say, quite ethically conflicted. They present cherry-picked science, create unfounded fears and use political institutions to manipulate the policy process. Crime does not pay and the NGOs, as well as the organic food industry lobby, need to learn that integrity matters.
  • EU policies for EU citizens: We have seen a flood of American campaign groups and activist scientists coming to Europe to fight to ban glyphosate as part of their campaign against GMOs. By banning glyphosate, they can make Roundup-Ready GMOs less attractive for farmers. These seeds are not grown in most of Europe so it is clear that the Americans have been abusing the policy landscape in Brussels to export a precautionary decision to Washington. These carpetbaggers that flooded Brussels with their lawyers and American activist dollars need to get the message they are not welcome here.

I would like to wish you luck in doing the right thing. It will not be easy, but you will be respected for your integrity and commitment to science – two elements sadly lacking in many regulators today. I trust you Commissioner Andriukaitis and for that you enjoy my full respect!

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