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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Agriculture MEPs and Commissioner clash in heated debate on Roundup approval

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
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Sustainable use of pesticides and ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance were debated by Agriculture MEPs and Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on Monday evening.

The debate on pesticides soon turned into a heated discussion on next steps for glyphosate, a widely used but highly controversial plant protection product, whose authorisation for use in the EU expires on 15 December 2017.

While some MEPs stressed that the glyphosate must be phased-out, citing concerns over its potential carcinogenicity, others rejected what they called scaremongering and insisted that the EU’s decision must be science-based and for the sake of food security must not tie farmers′ hands.

Commissioner Andriukaitis suggested to look at scientific arguments and apply “common sense approach” rather than to “create fear”. There is no scientific proof that glyphosate is carcinogenic, he said and dismissed what he called “conspiracy theories” about multinationals’ efforts to influence EU decisions.

In a non-binding resolution adopted on 24 October, Parliament called on a glyphosate phase-out, with full ban by end 2022.

On 20 November the Parliament’s Environment, Industry, Petitions and Agriculture Committees will hold a hearing on the European Citizens' Initiative “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”.

In a separate debate, MEPs discussed with Commissioner Andriukaitis EU's action plan to fight antimicrobial resistance and ways to improve its implementation all across the continent.

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