27th November 2017
Farmers face further uncertainty after the EU today voted to re-licence the weed killer Glyphosate for just five years.
The compromise agreed by Member State representatives falls well short of the European Commission's initial recommendation of a 15 year renewal.
Conservative delegation leader Ashley Fox MEP said: "Today's outcome simply prolongs the uncertainty for our farmers, who are being badly let down. They cannot plan for the future without long term assurances about the availability of substances they rely on.
"Glyphosate has been approved for use by both the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemical Agency, bodies set up and funded by the EU precisely to provide this kind of expert advice.
"Yet instead of evidence-based decision making, the EU comes up with an emotional, irrational but politically convenient fudge. It sets a worrying precedent for the approval of other substances and risks undermining the EU's whole regulatory process."
Countries have come under pressure from campaigners to ban Glyphosate, which is marketed for garden use under the brand name Round Up, despite the vast weight of scientific opinion concluding it is safe. As well as the EU agencies, the UN/World Health Organisation Meeting on Pesticide Residues backs its continued use. This analysis is supported by national authorities in non-EU countries including Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The current licence expires on 15 December.
It is estimated that banning Glyphosate would cut UK production of winter wheat and winter barley by 12% and oil seed rape by 10%, costing the farming industry £940m a year. Its use also lessens the need for mechanical ploughing, reducing pollution and soil erosion. No biological alternatives are expected to be commercially available in the near future.
An EU Glyphosate ban would still affect British farmers after Brexit as the bloc would almost certainly block the import of products on which the weed killer had been used.
The UK supported the Commission's original proposal to renew Glyphosate's licence for 15 years.