15th March 2017
Today the European Chemicals Agency’s Risk Assessment Committee concluded that the widely used herbicide glyphosate should not be classified as a carcinogen.
The agency’s opinion follows many environmental groups calling for glyphosate to be banned due to its alleged cancer causing properties. The debate over glyphosate’s future in the EU has caused uncertainty for farmers in the South West as it is a very commonly used herbicide.
Ashley Fox, MEP for the South West of England, said: “I welcome the European Chemicals Agency’s conclusion giving glyphosate the all clear from the allegation that it caused cancer.
“It is an important step in restoring certainty for farmers, enabling them to continue to responsibly grow British food that is safe, affordable and high quality.”
The Commission must now take into account the newly agreed classification when deciding on the renewal of the approval of glyphosate.
Mr Fox added “I hope the Commission presses ahead with a full authorisation of glyphosate and end the uncertainty for farmers."
A recent report by ADAS, the UK's largest agricultural consultancy, estimated a total ban on glyphosate would reduce UK production of winter wheat and winter barley by 12% and oilseed rape by 10%, costing the industry £551 million a year.
The RSPB cites glyphosate as key to controlling bracken and rushes, while the chemical is widely used to control weeds on airport runways and railway lines.
Glyphosate, originally marketed under the trade name “Roundup”, now accounts for around 25% of the global herbicide market. In the EU, glyphosate-based herbicides are used for weed control for a wide range of crops including cereals, oilseed rape, maize, beans and sugar beet. Several European countries, including Germany, use glyphosate herbicides on almost half of their total crop area.
Glyphosate products are also widely used by gardeners and for weed control in forestry and aquatic environments. More than 300 glyphosate herbicides from more than 40 different companies are currently registered for sale in Europe, many of which are available in gardening and hardware stores.