Shadow Farming Minister David Drew has revealed the Labour Party would only support the re-licensing of glyphosate for a ‘restricted time period’.
Mr Drew made the comments in an interview with EU news service Euractiv.
He said: “The view in Britain is [glyphosate] should be re-licensed, and Labour will support that, but probably for quite a restricted time period.
“With the levels of technological innovation we have today, we should be able to come up with some kind of alternative, but at the moment there are not really any.
“One problem with this debate is people obsess over the term ‘glyphosate’ instead of focusing on the quantities used. This is the area we should really focus on.”
Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman told Farmers Guardian in August Labour was not looking to ban glyphosate ‘at the moment’, but would keep the evidence on its safety under review.
A recent survey found 54 per cent of British farmers believed a glyphosate ban would cost them more than £10,000 every year, which is around a third of the income of an average wheat farmer.
NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “The Commission has asked the relevant agencies to check the safety of glyphosate.
“Both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have said there are no grounds for not giving it a full re-authorisation, so why David Drew thinks that should not be the case I would be interested to hear.”
With the EU’s decision on glyphosate’s re-authorisation pending, Mr Smith told Farmers Guardian he was ‘nervous’ about how tight things were looking.
“The encouraging thing is France maybe softening their stance from no re-authorisation to one which favours a product withdrawal over several years”, he said.
“I suspect we are going to see a limited re-authorisation far less than the 15 years proposed, which is clearly more interesting to the UK given Brexit.”
As well as lobbying politicians, the NFU has been engaging with retailers including Aldi, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco to give them a ‘deep and true understanding’ of the glyphosate issue.
The move follows an announcement from ice-cream giant Ben and Jerry’s that it would launch a glyphosate-free ‘organic dairy’ line next year.