An Appeal Committee of the European Commission has agreed to re-authorise the use of the herbicide glyphosate for an additional five year period.
The agreement was reached on the back of a qualified majority. The existing authorisation for glyphosate ends on December 15 2017.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed the glyphosate decision. However, it is disappointed that, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, the herbicide was not re-authorised for a full 15 years.
UFU seeds and cereals chairman Allan Chambers said that farmers across the UK have worked hard to ensure politicians and government officials understand the importance of glyphosate, adding: “It has been a frustrating process. What should have been a straightforward decision became overtly political. The UFU has always argued that decisions like this must be based on science and evidence. Clearly it hasn’t happened in this case.”
Glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the world, is a vital tool for farmers. It has been deemed safe by international health and science authorities such as the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nations, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency.
Mr Chambers said the EU has undermined the credibility of its own regulator bodies by ignoring their recommendations.
“Glyphosate helps farmers to control weeds, reduce grain drying costs, and manage harvests. It reduces the need to use other herbicides, helping to protect the soil and cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing. It helps farmers to produce the safe, affordable, high quality food consumers want,” says Mr Chambers.
Copa and Cogeca, the organisation that represents the professional interests of farming organisations across the EU, has also expressed disappointment that glyphosate has been re-authorised for a five year period only.
Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: “Although it is good news that a decision has been taken by Member States to end the uncertainty facing farmers and their cooperatives, we are worried that the EU has agreed to re-authorise glyphosate for five years instead of the full 15 years not following our own EU risk assessment. It should have been re-authorised for 15 years after it was given a positive assessment by both the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency.”