No agreement has been reached by an EU appeal committee on the relicensing of glyphosate, report Marianne Curtis and Abby Kellett. The herbicide’s licence is due to expire on July, 1.
No agreement has been reached by an EU appeal committee on the relicensing of glyphosate. The herbicide’s licence is due to expire on July, 1.
According to a European Commission spokesperson, the Commission will discuss next steps at the beginning of next week.
NFU chief arable adviser, Guy Gagen, said the Commission will present a written procedure to EU Commissioners on Monday to decide upon. “It looks likely approval will be for 18 months,” he said.
In the event of a failure to relicense glyphosate as an active ingredient, it will still be available to growers for several months, he added.
“Farmers will still be able to purchase products and it will be up to the UK government to decide [for how long]. I’d be very surprised if our government acted so quickly to change the rules.
“If they suddenly decided to ban it overnight they’d need a pretty good reason. All types of farm use it and it has amenity uses so banning it overnight would be very difficult."
There is no reason why pre-harvest use and use during autumn cultivations would change this season, said Mr Gagen.
The referendum result will have no immediate effect on the outcome as technically the UK remains a member state for the time being, he added.
Nick von Westenholz, Crop Protection Association CEO, said: “Glyphosate is a cornerstone of sustainable, productive agriculture and a product which scientists and regulators are more than satisfied can be used safely. It is hugely disappointing that the European Parliament has failed to reach a qualified majority on its relicensing.”
Should glyphosate be withdrawn, growers say it will have huge implications for their farming systems.
Oxfordshire farmer, Julian Gold, who currently operates a scratch till and control traffic farming system, said: “Rotational ploughing would have to come back into the frame, but I don’t think I would have to plough 100 per cent of the farm.
“But a pure scratch tillage, 100 per cent control traffic farming system would be out the window.”
Meanwhile Essex grower, Tom Bradshaw, suggested much more drastic changes would need to be made.
“Let’s not pretend the only people that use no-till depend on glyphosate. Even in a plough based system there is a reliance on glyphosate; it’s incredibly important to keep on top of weed burden.
“If the plough really solves black-grass issues, we wouldn’t have any and so when we say the obvious answer is to return to the plough, yes it’s one of the tools, but the plough on its own isn’t going to solve black-grass.
“I think we will end up 100 per cent spring cropping,” he said.
Hertfordshire-based grower, Andrew Watts, said: “Strip tillage systems rely on glyphosate. The GM lobby thought if they could get it removed by the back door it would be a way of preventing GM crops from being grown in the UK. It is the single most important agrochemical. It has no resistance to any weeds and can cut carbon emissions.”
Additional cultivation required by not using glyphosate would lead to an extra 12 million tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere, he said.
The Soil Association said: “We hope that the Commission will take note of the growing body of scientific evidence regarding the impact of glyphosate use when coming to its conclusions regarding the relicensing of glyphosate.
“We welcome the caution that European member states have taken over reauthorising glyphosate in light of new scientific evidence, including emerging evidence that glyphosate may harm soil life.”