EU Commission to restart talks on glyphosate re-authorisation

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed the European Commission’s plan to re-authorise glyphosate for ten years.

The European Commission will restart negotiations with member states over the re-licensing decision, but no date has yet been set for when discussions with representatives of EU member states will begin.

The commission granted an 18-month extension last July after its experts and member states representatives failed to agree a common position amid conflicting scientific reports and campaigns on potential links between glyphosate and cancer.

The decision by the commission to re-enter talks for the re-authorisation of glyphosate follows a report by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in March 2017.

The ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment concluded that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen, or as toxic for reproduction.

The same conclusion was reached in a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report in 2015.

UFU President Barclay Bell said: “This will be a welcome relief to growers, as it is one of the most widely used herbicides globally and in the EU.

“The loss of glyphosate would have greatly increased the time and cost of managing weeds, not only for farmers but for local councils and gardeners.”

While the UFU believes the plan is “positive“, the union said it would have preferred a full 15 years re-authorisation of glyphosate, as suggested by the European farming body Copa and Cogeca.

“Both ECHA and EFSA have issued opinions based on strong scientific evidence highlighting that there are no safety concerns regarding the use of glyphosate in crop production,” said Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen.

Since there is no legitimate reason not to re-authorise it, we urge the EU to re-authorise its use for 15 years in accordance with EU legislation.

The UFU said that it will continue to work with its members and other UK and EU farming unions to ensure the facts about glyphosate’s safety and its importance are fully understood, in the run up to the European Commission confirming its decision on the licence.