Farmers voice concerns with EU on brink of weedkiller ban

IFA president Joe Healy
IFA president Joe Healy
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The key active ingredient in weedkiller Roundup could be taken off the shelves, as MEPs at the European Parliament voted to ban glyphosate.

The herbicide has been under the spotlight as its licence is up for renewal across Europe.

The latest vote is not binding on the European Union, but shows the mounting pressure that is building over the contested weedkiller.

The debate has been raging since the World Health Organisation said in 2015 that it "probably" causes cancer. However, the EU's food safety and chemicals agencies have found no evidence to support the claim.

Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness, who voted against banning glyphosate-based products, described the result as a "concern".

"The balance of the debate is lost," she warned, adding the political mood had shifted.

Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Joe Healy warned the current debate is being driven by populism based on politics, not science.

"Lack of political leadership across the EU is seriously undermining fact-based scientific opinion. This has resulted in the current debacle where important tools such as plant protection products, including glyphosate, could be lost to the agricultural sector," he said.

Get the latest news from the Farming Independent team 3 times a week.

Mr Healy pointed out glyphosate is an important herbicide for agriculture - but was also widely used in horticulture, parks and gardens.

MEPs sitting in a plenary session of the European Parliament yesterday voted to back a full ban on glyphosate-based herbicides in the EU by December 15, 2022, and restrictions from next year.

There were 355 votes in favour of banning glyphosate, 204 against it and 111 MEPs abstained. It follows a move by environment committee MEPs who last week backed a full ban of the chemical.

The position of the MEPs differs from the stance being taken by the European Commission which proposed extending the licence for 10 years if enough EU countries are in favour of it.

The member states are to discuss its renewal today, however so far there are not yet enough countries in favour of the renewal.

Ireland is favour of renewal, France has come out against it, while elections in Germany and Italy have hampered a firm decision.

If the countries fail to come to an agreement the glyphosate-based herbicides could be taken off the shelves next year.

Irish Independent

For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App