Glyphosate EU license renewed for five years

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/designer491
© istock/designer491

Related tags: Agriculture, European union, Eu

EU farmers lobby, Copa and Cogeca, says it regrets the EU decision today to reauthorize glyphosate for only five years and not the standard 15 years.

There was a qualified majority backing from member states in today’s EU Appeal Committee in favor of a proposal to renew the marketing license for the controversial herbicide for five years.

The Commission said 18 countries backed the proposition, with nine voting against and one abstaining. It will now adopt the decision before the current authorization on glyphosate expires on 15 December.

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Pekka Pesonen, Copa and Cogeca secretary general, said today’s decision ends the uncertainty facing farmers and their cooperatives, but he argued that glyphosate should have been reauthorized for 15 years since it was given a positive assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

“It is vital not only to feed a growing population with reliable food supplies at affordable prices. It also reduces the need for ploughing, which benefits the environment and enables farmers to apply no tillage, which reduces soil erosion, and keeps soil organic matters up.

"Without it, our food supplies will be put at risk as there are currently no alternatives on the market.”

COCERAL, the EU cereals, feedstuffs and oilseeds industry representatives, commenting on today's vote, said the renewal, given that it is only for five years, does not provide clarity for the long-term perspective of European agriculture, productivity and the trade of agricultural raw materials in Europe.

Teresa Babusci, secretary general of that cereals trade group, said it was important to take science as a guide and rely on it, and, in that way, avoid "emotional debates and artificial controversies."

EU agriculture commissioner, Phil Hogan, welcomed the vote, while his health and food safety counterpart also hailed the fact there was a qualified majority. 

The Agricultural Industries Confederation, which represents the feed sector and the majority of businesses distributing plant protection products (PPP) in the UK, was pleased with the vote to renew but said the process by which the approval was granted was "unnecessarily tortuous."

"The current EU scientific based approval process of risk identification and minimisation for PPPs identified that glyphosate met all the criteria for approval. This opinion was upheld following scrutiny and re-scrutiny. However, unlike other active substances, the opinion of independent scientific bodies was rejected by many lobbyists in an attempt to undermine GM technology, big businesses and pesticides more generally."

However, environmental group, Friends of the Earth, saw the renewal of the license for glyphosate as detrimental to consumer health; it said the move would also hold back the development of environmentally friendly approaches to crop cultivation.

The EU risk assessment process on glypyhosate has been mired in controversy, as the UN cancer agency​ differed to EFSA​ and ECHA​ in its conclusions regarding the safety of the herbicide.

Related topics: Regulation

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