UK farming unions criticise unnecessary delay on glyphosate

The UK farming unions have today criticised the decision to delay a decision on the reauthorisation of glyphosate for the second time.

A position had been due from the Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed earlier today but after lengthy talks the meeting ended without a decision. It now remains to be seen whether a vote will take place in the coming weeks or whether the European Commission will be required to cast the deciding vote. Ultimately if no decision is reached before June 30, products containing glyphosate will be withdrawn from the market. 1

The vote should have ended months of speculation on whether to re-approve products containing the active substance glyphosate could be used in Europe. All four farming unions are fully behind the European Commission’s initial proposal for a full renewal of glyphosate and welcome the UK Government’s positive stance on this too.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “Like most farmers who use glyphosate regularly, I am nothing short of exasperated as to why this key herbicide cannot simply and quickly be given the reauthorisation that has been recommended by EFSA – the appropriate EU scientific body. Some member states in the committee are prevaricating and wasting time when they could be taking decisions based on scientific evidence. Glyphosate is a pesticide which allows farmers to combat weeds while supporting cultivation methods that can preserve good soil structure. There is no sense behind this delay and we look to Member States to support an evidence-based, full re-approval at the earliest possible opportunity.”

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “This is a chance for the European Union to show a commitment to evidence led policy-making; the European Food Safety Authority – along with the UN Food and Agriculture organisation – have confirmed that glyphosate is safe. Scottish farmers need to know that decisions are being made on sound evidence not held up by political tactics. “

NFU Cymru President Stephen James added: “The list of those confirming that glyphosate is safe for use is getting longer by the day. Even the RSPB advocates the use of glyphosate to control bracken in the uplands in Wales and only last month the European Parliament confirmed it should be re-authorised. Farmers and the environment need glyphosate and it is imperative we waste no more time in re-approving it.”

Ulster Farmers Union President Barclay Bell also commented: “Glyphosate is Europe’s most commonly used herbicide and it is important that it remains as widely available to the industry as it is now. I cannot understand the logic behind delaying a decision on a product which is proven to be safe and beneficial. Farmers in Northern Ireland will take a dim view of this decision to delay and I urge all parties to reach an agreement immediately.”

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