The Scottish farming community may be overwhelmingly in favour of retaining glyphosate but it has not been backed by its MEPs, investigations by Farmers Guardian have revealed.
In a recent vote only one of Scotland’s six European parliamentarians voted to have the herbicide re-registered despite farming groups including NFU Scotland lobbying for its re-approval.
Baroness Nosheena Mobarik voted against a motion which would have seen glyphosate products phased out completely by December 2022.
Instead she backed the European Commission’s position which would have seen the chemical registered for another 10 years, a position favoured by the farming unions.
Baroness Mobarik, a Conservative peer, is a new MEP having only been appointed by her party in September to replace Ian Duncan who was made a peer following the June election. He is now an Under Secretary of State at the Scottish Office.
The European Conservative and Reform (ECR) parliamentary group, which Baroness Mobarik is a member of, said fears glyphosate was carcinogenic and an endocrine disruptor were ‘putting scaremongering ahead of robust independent scientific assessment’.
Scotland’s two Labour MEPs, David Martin and Catherine Stihler, voted to ban glyphosate.
Their vote follows a call from Labour’s Shadow Farming Minister in Westminster, David Drew, for the chemical to be re-licensed for a ’restricted time period’.
Two Scottish National Party MEPs, Alyn Smith and Ian Hudghton, also voted for a ban.
UKIP’s David Coburn abstained.
Mr Smith and Mr Hudghton MEP said they supported a ‘more proportionate’ withdrawal over five years rather than an immediate ban and they did not exclude a further extension of the five-year period if an alternative product cannot be found. They voted alongside fellow members of the Green Alliance group.
Mr Hudghton said: "We have had a lot of lobbying on this complex issue, and it cannot be boiled down to black and white as some would pretend.
"This is a balanced vote which can be managed by the industry, and I look forward to seeing better, cheaper alternative products come forward."
The vote in the European Parliament on October 24 saw 355 MEPs come out in favour of banning glyphosate by December 2022, with 204 against the motion and 111 abstaining.
The motion was, however, non-binding and a group of experts from all the member states was due to discuss the matter today (November 9).
However the process is unlikely to end there.
A European Citizens petition has gathered more than one million votes calling for the banning of glyphosate.
This level of support for a petition guarantees a public hearing within the Parliament in the near future.
Chairman of NFU Scotland’s combinable crops committee Ian Sands and the union’s deputy director of policy Andrew Bauer have been in Brussels this week lobbying for the re-authorised use of glyphosate for a full 15-year term.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Sands said: “The whole credibility of the decision-making process in Brussels would be in jeopardy if the expert committee were to choose political rhetoric over hard, scientific evidence.”
If no qualified majority can be secured for re-authorisation this week then the decision would be passed to the Appeals Committee of Member States’ political representatives, pushing the decision closer to December 15 when glyphosate’s authorisation expires.