The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is extremely disappointed that, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, member states have failed to agree the reauthorisation for glyphosate for a further 10 years.
UFU president Barclay Bell says that it is deeply frustrating that politics continues to thwart what should be a relatively straightforward decision.
He added: “The scientific evidence overwhelming shows that glyphosate is safe, when used correctly. It is an essential component of the farmers’ toolbox. We rely on it to control weeds, reduce grain drying costs, and manage harvests. There are numerous environmental benefits too including – cutting greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing, reducing the need to use other herbicides, and protecting the soil. Ultimately, it helps farmers to produce safe, affordable, high quality food, which is what consumers want.”
Mr Bell says he can see no reason why glyphosate should not be reauthorised. “I would urge member states to look objectively at the evidence. The science is sound and the decision must be based on facts and not emotions or politics,” he added.
Northern Ireland MEP Diane Dodds has also criticised the European Commission for not extending the approval to use glyphosate within the EU for a further ten years.
Mrs Dodds added: “This week the European Parliament voted by a majority to phase out the use of phosphate in the EU. The European Commission then failed to make a decision to extend the approval of using glyphosate for a further 10 years. The decision regarding the use of glyphosate rests with the European Commission. If they do not allow for the product to be licensed for a further ten years, it would end the sale of this product in the EU from 2020.
“The banning of use of the product within the EU would be a major blow to both gardeners and farmers who effectively use this product to control the spread of unwanted weeds in arable crops, horticultural crops, in gardens and public parks throughout the UK. It will see the increase of common weeds through the countryside and reduce the yields and profitability of our already struggling arable sector.
“The vote taken in the European Parliament this week goes against the science that shows that it is safe to use glyphosate as long as guidance is followed. If the Commission doesn’t approve the use of Glyphosate for a further 10 years, it would mean that the UK and other EU countries are less competitive compared to non-EU countries who are free to continue to use this product and exports produce into the UK and wider EU. As the UK exits from the EU, it is vital that we gain the ability to make decisions that are scientifically based and are good for both its citizens and the countryside,” Mrs Dodds added.