Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 March 2018

EU takes 'cautious' move on herbicides

MEP Mairead McGuinness. Photo: Damien Eagers
MEP Mairead McGuinness. Photo: Damien Eagers
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A more "critical" approach to the use of chemicals in agriculture is emerging across the European Parliament, one Irish MEP has said.

It follows the move by members of the parliament to vote for EU market approval for the herbicide glyphosate for only seven years rather than the 15 originally proposed.

MEPs also called for the European Commission not to approve any non-professional use of glyphosate, a key ingredient in weedkiller Roundup made by Monsanto, and to halt usage in public parks, playgrounds or public gardens.

MEP Mairead McGuinness said the opinion of the European Parliament will be passed on to the Commission which is not strictly obliged to follow it but does take it into account. The commission had previously proposed licensing it for 15 years.

"I think the Commission will have to take on board what the Parliament advised which is a more cautious approach than 15 years," she said.

"It sends out a signal that across parliament there is a more critical look at the use of chemicals in agriculture. It is in line with the move towards regulating sprayers as well," she added.

Members also described as "unacceptable" the use of glyphosate in 'green burndown' to kill off the crop plant prior to harvesting to accelerate ripening. Views have varied on the herbicide with the World Health Organisation classifying it "as probably carcinogenic to humans", while the European Food Safety Authority has found it is unlikely to pose a threat to humans.

Neil Keane, president of the Agricultural Science Association, said it was concerning that the license renewal has become a political rather than scientific process.

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