More than 1 million people have signed a petition demanding the EU ban the Monsanto herbicide which contains glyphosate over fears it causes cancer, campaigners said Thursday.
The petition comes as the European Union is deciding whether to renew the license of the controversial weed killer produced by the U.S. agro-chemicals giant, Roundup, which contains glyphosate.
"In less than five months, more than 1 million EU citizens have joined our call for a glyphosate ban," said David Schwartz, coordinator of the European Citizens Initiative, which is behind the petition. "European citizens aren't fooled by the pesticide industry's lobbying efforts or the faulty science it's peddling," he added.
The group attained the signature threshold to require a formal response from the European Commission — 1 million names from at least seven countries — in record time. The petition is due to be formally submitted next month.
"Our politicians need to hear this message loud and clear," Schwartz added.
The 28-nation EU will formally decide in December whether to extend the license for glyphosate, amid deep divisions over its use.
In July 2016, EU member states approved limiting the use of glyphosate during an 18-month extension for further research. In March, the EU's chemical agency said it should not be classed as a carcinogen. The European Food Safety Authority made a similar finding in 2015.
But the findings are challenged by a range of scientists, environmental groups and a number of members of the European Parliament who point to evidence from the World Health Organization that the chemical may cause cancer.
Moreover, many voices have denounced the pressures and even illegal maneuvers that Monsanto allegedly carries out in a bid to counter the idea that its best-selling product is carcinogenic.
The agrochemical giant was accused in a U.S. Federal Court in San Francisco in March of using its own employees to write reports covering up the risk of cancer, on behalf of farmers and others.
The company’s toxicology manager is accused of ghostwriting sections of a scientific report in 2013 under the names of other scientists and another manager was said to have ghostwritten sections of another report from 2000.
Based on these false reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deemed that Roundup posed no cancer risk. The company has denied that it carried out such activities and says that the allegations are based on “cherry-picking” from one email.