The German government is to ban use of glyphosate in the country from the end of 2023.
According to UK and German press reports, the ban, agreed by the German cabinet earlier this week, is part of an insect conservation programme announced by Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.
Bayer accounts for 50 per cent of glyphosate sales globally. Its head of communications and government affairs, Dr Julian Little says: “It is fascinating that they have decided to take a product off the market because they say it harms insects. It is a herbicide so how is it killing bees?”
Even following an argument that weeds are useful for insects, why choose glyphosate in the first instance when there are hundreds of other products containing herbicides, he says. “It flies in the face of any scientific thinking.”
In a statement Bayer says: “We respect political decisions by some EU Member States to reduce applications of glyphosate. However, with regards to the German government’s intention to impose a unilateral ban on glyphosate in 2023, we have a different view.
“Such a ban would ignore the overwhelming scientific assessments of competent authorities around the world that have determined for more than 40 years that glyphosate can be used safely. Within the European Union, we have a common legal framework for authorisation of plant protection active ingredients, backed by one of the world’s most stringent safety assessment schemes.”
Looking ahead toward the EU renewal of glyphosate in 2022, France, the Netherlands, Hungary and Sweden recently have been appointed to reassess the safety of glyphosate, says Bayer. “Pre-empting the result of such a thorough scientific assessment by these EU Member States and the European Food Safety Authority will erode confidence in a science- and rule-based authorisation procedure and thus have a significant negative impact on agriculture and other sectors far beyond this individual substance.”
Dr Little adds: “We will be supporting re-registration of glyphosate in conjunction with a consortium of companies and partnerships.”
Glyphosate is approved for use in the EU until December 2022.