Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 20 October 2017

Hogan 'very concerned' after France says no to glyphosate

Glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth and has been used in commercial weedkilling products since the 1970s. Stock pic: REUTERS
Glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth and has been used in commercial weedkilling products since the 1970s. Stock pic: REUTERS
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

MAJOR concerns now hang over the future use of glyphosate in the EU with the move by France not to back its reauthorisation, warned EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

The European Commission has proposed extending approval by 10 years for glyphosate, which is a key active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller. However, it has stressed that it wants support from member states to renew the licence in the coming months.

"I'm very concerned at the moment, particularly with the recent announcement by France that an essential product like glyphosate which deals with weeds will not be available," said Mr Hogan as he gave a keynote address at the ASA future of agri-food conference.

UCD professor Jimmy Burke has warned that banning glyphosate would be a "hammer blow" to the Irish agriculture industry as it would cost farmers as much as €30m a year in higher production costs and loss of yield for tillage farmers.

Some of the bigger countries have yet to set out their position on it. Mr Hogan said the position that Germany will take on the issue will all depend on the upcoming elections in the country.

"The European Commission and the Commissioner has gone to all of the various groups and the scientific evidence to show that glyphosate is actually safe but politically it seems to be causing some difficulties in some member states," said Mr Hogan. "We don't want a situation where member states are hiding behind the Commission on various issues.

"We want member states to come forward and support the science-based recommendation of Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis and ensure the continuation of glyphosate for the next 10 years. It is too important for agriculture - and for urban dwellers as well who haven't access to alternative problems in relation to weeds in their gardens either."

He pointed out that in general there is "big pressure" to reduce all inputs in agriculture, from fertilisers to all types of chemicals.

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Mr Hogan said this would also come into play in the next Common Agriculture Policy budget, with the 38pc slice of the EU Budget "under attack" from competing priorities across the EU.

"The 38pc is always under attack when you have other priorities being discussed like defence, security and migration," he said.

On the issue of Brexit, Mr Hogan said the EU needs to accept that the onus to find a "workable solution"is their responsibility and common-sense solutions were needed.


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