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Postponement of glyphosate re-licencing will bring added uncertainty for growers

The postponement of a vote to re-licence glyphosate will create further uncertainty for farmers about the availability of the herbicide, industry chiefs have warned.


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The EU licence of the world’s most used weedkiller runs out at the end of June.
The EU licence of the world’s most used weedkiller runs out at the end of June.

The European Commission had planned to rubber stamp a new 15 year licence for the herbicide on Tuesday, but the re-approval was opposed by Italy, France, Sweden and the Netherlands.

 

It comes after a study by the World Health Organisation found the chemical was ‘probably carcinogenic’.

 

The EU licence of the world’s most used weedkiller runs out at the end of June.

 

Nick von Westenholz, chief executive officer of the Crop Protection Association (CPA) urged Member States to ‘listen to the science’ around glyphosate.

 

“Numerous health assessments conducted by public authorities over the last 40 years have all concluded that, when used correctly, glyphosate poses no meaningful risk to human health,” said Mr von Westenholz.

 

“As an industry we take pride in the fact that our products are demonstrably safe.

 

“Pesticides are amongst the most heavily regulated products in Europe and it currently takes about ten years, costing over £150m to bring an active ingredient to market. It is this process, backed by effective and independent regulatory scrutiny, that ensures the public can have absolute confidence in our products.”

 

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is to investigate the wider human health effects of glyphosate following the WHO’s warnings.

 

This process will be finalised towards the end of 2017. If ECHA finds glyphosate can cause cancer, interfere with reproduction or damage the hormone system, it can no longer be sold, according to EU law.

 

The postponement of the vote has been welcomed by environmental campaigners Greenpeace.

 

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “Rushing to grant a new licence now, without waiting for an evaluation by Europe’s chemical agency, would be like skydiving without checking your equipment first. As long as there is conflicting scientific advice, glyphosate should not be approved for use in the EU. And countries would be better advised to do without it.”


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