After months of politicking the glyphosate debate was finally settled when Angela Merkel’s Germany voted for an extension rather than abstaining as they had done in the previous votes. This swung the latest vote in favour of an extension for a further five years.
The European Commission said in a statement that 18 countries had backed its proposal to renew the chemical’s license, with nine against and one abstention. This meant that there was a “positive opinion” by the narrowest of possible margins under rules requiring more than a simple majority.
The Commission had the power to push through the proposal but were keen that the countries gave them a mandate to renew the licence. After a series of indecisive votes they finally got the mandate they, and most European farmers wanted.
Guy Smith, NFU Vice President, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the farmers across the country who have lobbied their MEPs and invited them out on to farm to see first-hand the benefits glyphosate brings, and those who have made the case for glyphosate’s reauthorisation on social media. I am convinced their efforts have helped us reach this positive outcome.
“It is good news that farmers and growers will be able to continue using glyphosate for another five years. However, the fact remains that there is absolutely no regulatory reason why it should not have been reauthorised for 15 years, as was originally proposed.
“Today’s decision will be welcomed by farmers who have watched with growing concern as what should have been a straightforward decision has become increasingly political. The NFU has repeatedly said that decisions like this must be based on science and evidence. This clearly hasn’t happened in this case.
“Independent regulatory bodies around the world, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), have looked at all the scientific evidence and concluded glyphosate is safe to use. But their conclusions have been ignored and their credibility has been undermined.
“Glyphosate reduces the need to use other herbicides, it helps to protect soil and cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing, and it enables farmers in this country to grow crops that help produce safe, affordable, high quality British food.”
Responding to news that a qualified majority of EU member states reached a decision to renew the license for the controversial weed killer glyphosate, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, commented: “This is a toxic decision. A majority of EU nations, including the UK are ignoring huge opposition from civil society; the almost one and a half million EU citizens who have signed a petition against glyphosate and the European Parliament who recently voted for a five-year phase out.