Glyphosate row rages on as licence vote delayed

Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that contains glyphosate for sale in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that contains glyphosate for sale in France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Sarah Collins

EU countries are still divided over whether to reissue controversial weedkiller glyphosate for 10 years following a Commission proposal earlier this year.

A vote on the proposal has been put off until EU health chief Vytenis Andriukaitis can get a better idea of whether it has the requisite majority to win it.

Member states were asked to provide written comments on the 10-year reauthorisation by September “in view of a further discussion and possible vote this autumn”, a spokesperson said.

The European Commission does not want to be left on the hook for forcing through a reissue if a qualified majority of countries — 55pc of countries with 65pc of the EU population — cannot be found to support the renewal.

Mr Andriukaitis told EU agriculture ministers last week that the issue was “a shared responsibility” between the EU and national governments.

Talks on the renewal between national experts last week were “constructive”, a Commission spokesperson said. But large countries such as Germany and France remain sceptical about the reauthorisation, with German elections in September making it more difficult for the government to take a firm position.

A petition to ban the use of glyphosate — which a World Health Organisation body said in 2015 “probably” causes cancer — has been signed by over 1.3 million people across the EU, and was submitted to the Commission earlier this month.

The Commission is formally obliged to respond to the special EU petition, which it registered earlier this year.

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Meanwhile, farmers across the EU are still pushing for a 15-year renewal — the standard in the EU — after the herbicide was cleared by the EU’s chemicals and food safety agencies after being tested for cancer-causing properties.

Scientists at the EU’s chemicals and food safety agencies have been adamant they have taken all the science into account. They stressed there is not enough evidence to support the 2015 finding by the WHO’s body.

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