‘EU fail­ure over her­bi­cide threat­ens whole in­dus­try’

The Scotsman - - Weather - By BRIAN HEN­DER­SON

It was an­other ground­hog day for glyphosate yes­ter­day – with the EU spe­cial­ist com­mit­tee charged with tak­ing a de­ci­sion on the re-li­cens­ing of the world’s most widely used her­bi­cide once again fail­ing to reach a con­clu­sive ver­dict.

In a re­peat of the pre­vi­ous meet­ing, a split vote from the stand­ing com­mit­tee on plant an­i­mal food and feed (Sco­paff) failed to de­liver the “qual­i­fied ma­jor­ity” re­quired to ap­prove the use of the prod­uct for even the com­mis­sion’s re­duced fiveyear rec­om­men­da­tion.

But, de­spite the dead­lock, 14 coun­tries – rep­re­sent­ing 37 per cent of the vot­ing power – sup­ported a re­newal of the prod­uct’s li­cence. Sources in­di­cated that the coun­tries in favour of its con­tin­ued use in­cluded the UK, the Czech Re­pub­lic, Den­mark, Ire­land, Spain, Hun­gary, the Nether­lands, Slove­nia, Slo­vakia, Fin­land, Es­to­nia, Latvia, Swe­den and Lithua­nia.

Nine coun­tries, rep­re­sent­ing just over 32 per cent of the vote, are be­lieved to have voted against the pro­pos­als for a five-year re­newal, con­sist­ing of Bel­gium, France, Croa­tia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Lux­em­bourg, Malta and Aus­tria.

And while only five coun­tries ab­stained – Bul­garia, Ger­many, Poland, Por­tu­gal 0 English N FU chief Guy Smith called for ac­tion and Ro­ma­nia – their vot­ing power ac­counted for around 31 per cent, leav­ing the de­ci­sion in limbo.

It is ex­pected that the is­sue will now go to the EU’S ap­peals com­mit­tee to take a de­ci­sion be­fore the prod­uct’s li­cence lapses in mid De­cem­ber.

The UK’S Crop Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (CPA) termed the out­come “a dev­as­tat­ing blow” for UK farm­ers who would now face con­tin­ued un­cer­tainty over the avail­abil­ity of this im­por­tant man­age­ment tool.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing that some mem­ber states are con­tin­u­ing to politi­cise glyphosate, pub­licly block­ing the reau­tho­ri­sa­tion whilst pri­vately urg­ing the com­mis­sion to reap­prove” said Sarah Mukher­jee, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the CPA.

“They are ig­nor­ing the sci­ence and there­fore risk­ing the liveli­hoods of Euro­pean farm­ers and the con­tin­ued avail­abil­ity of safe, healthy, af­ford­able food for con­sumers.

Urg­ing the com­mis­sion to take ac­tion and grant the stan­dard 15-year li­cence, she con­tin­ued: “Any­thing less un­der­mines the work of in­de­pen­dent, ex­pert reg­u­la­tors at EFSA and ECHA who all agree glyphosate is safe.”

Farmer and vice-pres­i­dent of the English NFU, Guy Smith, said that al­low­ing mem­ber states to con­tinue play­ing pol­i­tics in the face of over­whelm­ing sci­ence and ev­i­dence show­ing glyphosate’s safety un­der­mined the cred­i­bil­ity of the EU’S en­tire reg­u­la­tory process.

He said the com­mis­sion should stand by its own sci­ence – and “step in and over-ride the po­lit­i­cal wran­gling by re-au­tho­ris­ing the prod­uct for a full 15 years”.

NFU Scot­land pres­i­dent An­drew Mc­cor­nick said that glyphosate was vi­tal to Scot­tish farm­ers who used it to con­trol weeds, man­age har­vests, and re­duce grain dry­ing costs.

“This fail­ure to ob­tain a ma­jor­ity vote is just creat­ing fur­ther un­cer­tainty for our mem­bers, many of whom need to start plan­ning for next year,” he said.

He en­cour­aged farm­ers to sup­port NFU Scot­land by lob­by­ing and per­son­ally e-mail­ing and/or tweet­ing pres­i­dent Jean-claude Juncker, com­mis­sioner Vyte­nis An­driukaitis and com­mis­sioner Phil Ho­gan to ex­plain the im­por­tance of glyphosate to their busi­nesses.

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