Com­mis­sion forced into u-turn on glyphosate

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE -

THE Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has been forced into a climb­down over the re­newal of glyphosate’s EU li­cence.

EU coun­tries will now have to de­cide whether to ap­prove the use of the con­tro­ver­sial weed­killer for a fur­ther five years, rather than the 10-year pe­riod favoured by the Com­mis­sion.

Glyphosate’s cur­rent EU li­cence will run out at the end of 2017, but EU gov­ern­ments have so far failed to come to an agree­ment on whether to reau­tho­rise it.

Ire­land is in favour of a re­newal, but op­po­si­tion and in­de­ci­sion in France, Ger­many and Italy — three of the EU’s largest economies — has put paid to an agree­ment, which re­quires a dou­ble ma­jor­ity of EU coun­tries and pop­u­la­tions in or­der to pass.

Glyphosate, the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in Mon­santo’s RoundUp, is the world’s most-used her­bi­cide, with EU sales val­ued at around €1bn.

It has been li­censed at EU level since 2002 but has been in use since the 1970s.

A row erupted over its safety in 2015, af­ter a World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion panel said it “prob­a­bly” causes can­cer. The EU’s chem­i­cals and food safety agen­cies say it is “un­likely” to be car­cino­genic to hu­mans.

An EU ex­pert com­mit­tee on plants, an­i­mals, food and feed met last week to dis­cuss glyphosate but failed to vote on the ex­ist­ing pro­posal.

A vote is now sched­uled for Novem­ber 9.

A spokesper­son for the Com­mis­sion said it would work with EU gov­ern­ments to “find a so­lu­tion that en­joys the largest pos­si­ble sup­port”.

So far there are 12-13 coun­tries likely to come out in favour of a five- year ex­ten­sion, but oth­ers will have to go back to their gov­ern­ments to check on the new pro­posal.

The Com­mis­sion’s climb­down fol­lows a Euro­pean Par­lia­ment vote call­ing for a five-year re­newal of glyphosate’s li­cence, cou­pled with an even­tual ban on its use by 2022. The vote is not bind­ing.

EU farm­ers hit out at the move, with agri­cul­tural fed­er­a­tion Copa and Co­geca say­ing in a state­ment that it “gives a wrong sig­nal to the pub­lic” about glyphosate’s safety and puts farm­ers at a “com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage” com­pared to non-EU pro­duc­ers.

An EU-wide pe­ti­tion to ban glyphosate gar­nered over a mil­lion sig­na­tures and was for­mally sub­mit­ted to the Com­mis­sion ear­lier this month. The EU ex­ec­u­tive is legally obliged to re­act to it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.