The EU licence for the controversial weed-killer Glyphosate may have been renewed for another five years last week, but more than a million Europeans have called for a ban.

In response to the European Citizens’ Initiative “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”, the European Commission on December 12 adopted a Communication to present a legislative proposal next year.

“It’s great that well over a million EU citizens have invested their time to engage directly on an issue that matters,” said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. “The Commission has listened and will now act.”

According to Timmermans, there is a need for more transparency about how decisions are made in this area.

“Next spring the Commission will also deliver proposals on drinking water we promised in response to another successful Initiative,” he said. “In sum, I am a strong supporter of the right of citizens to engage in this manner and am pressing the Parliament and Council to make speedy progress on our proposals to make it easier for European Citizens’ Initiatives to be successful in the future.”

According to a Commission press release, the December 12 Communication also pledges a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between this herbicide and cancer in humans.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “From the beginning of my mandate I have been a strong supporter of increased transparency in decision-making as well as in the terms of access to the scientific studies underlying the approval of active substances. I will put forward a proposal to address these issues by spring 2018. However it is equally important that member states assume their responsibility when it comes to the authorisation of pesticides in their own markets. They must also ensure that pesticides are used sustainably and in full compliance with label requirements. Transparency, independence, and sustainable use of pesticides are our objectives. They should underpin our work and this is where my focus will be”.