Glyphosate debate on hold (update)

An initial round of votes by the Committee that advises the EU Commission on licensing crop protection products has failed to support a proposal to renew glyphosate’s license for a further 10 years.

The proposal by the Commission, which was backed by the EU’s expert agencies, ended in deadlock as 16 countries including the UK, voted in favour of the renewal. However, the votes fall short of the threshold needed to reach a qualified majority, with two countries Germany and Portugal abstaining from the vote.

Diplomats said that the Commission is now going to consult member states to see if reducing the period of renewal could bring countries on board to support the relicensing of the widely used herbicide. It now appears that another vote will be held in late November shortly before the license runs out in December.

CLA deputy president Tim Breitmeyer said: “We are grateful that the UK government has stood firm behind the scientific evidence and voted for the relicensing of glyphosate. It is vital to remember that the EU’s own expert agencies have concluded that glyphosate is safe.

The NFU said it was disappointed that no agreement had been reached over the reauthorisation of glyphosate despite the overwhelming weight of science and evidence showing it is perfectly safe when used correctly.

Guy Smith, NFU Vice President, said: “We’re disappointed that member states failed to reach agreement on the renewal of glyphosate’s licence for ten years today, as the Commission had proposed, although we welcome the fact the UK continues to support the full reauthorisation of glyphosate. All eyes are now on the next meeting of this committee where they are likely to debate a shorter reauthorisation period

“The overwhelming weight of science and evidence shows that glyphosate is perfectly safe when used correctly. This has been the conclusion reached by regulatory bodies around the world, including the EU’s two leading regulatory bodies – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

“The continued politicisation of this decision damages the credibility of the EU’s regulatory bodies and undermines the regulatory process. It also has huge implications for farming in the UK and across Europe.

“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.

“There is no reason why glyphosate should not be reauthorised for 15 years, never mind the ten years the Commission had proposed. We would urge members states to look at the science and base their decision on the evidence – which shows there is no reason not to reauthorise glyphosate.”

The vote follows one of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg earlier this week, where MEPs called for an end to use glyphosate by 2020.


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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.