MEPS support full ban on glyphosate in Europe

Environment committee MEPs have backed a full ban on glyphosate, one of the world’s most widely used weedkillers, at a sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning.

The MEPs opposed a 10-year extension on the herbicide  – the main ingredient in popular weedkiller Roundup – instead calling for further restrictions from 2018 and an outright ban in 2022.

They voted 355 in favour of the ban, 204 against and 111 abstentions were recorded.

EU member states will vote on the renewal of the glyphosate licence for another 10 years tomorrow.

The proposal set to be tabled to member states is identical to the one that was put forward earlier in the month on October 5, which was postponed to a later date.

France has voiced strong opposition to the proposal and Germany believed to be teetering on abstaining from the vote.

It is believed that France has taken this position as a result of concerns over glyphosate’s risk to human health – which has led to significant investigative reports across the world.

Last July, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said glyphosate would only be re-licensed if it received “sufficient backing”.

He stated that the commission has no intention of reauthorising the herbicide without a “qualified majority”, according to Reuters.

This would mean that at least 16 member states would have to support the proposal, along with a representation of 65% of the European population.

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella organisation that represents European farmers’ groups at EU-level, has urged the EU to reauthorise glyphosate for longer than the 10-year time-frame, pushing instead for a 15-year period.

The organisation has argued that there are “no safety concerns” and that its use is “essential together with catch crops to prevent soil erosion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Irish MEP and first vice-president of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness recently said that even those who are in favour of banning glyphosate admit that there will be huge consequences for European agriculture.

For many decades glyphosate has proven itself to be an effective tool for farmers, and there is no safe substitute product that we know of.

“There is also the reality that none of our trading partners today or potential partners in the future are likely to ban this product.

“So if member states refuse to give their approval for it to be licensed beyond the end of this year, it will no longer be available to farmers, yet we will import animal feed and raw materials produced using glyphosate products,” she added.

This vote will have a major impact on EU farmers and our food production system, McGuinness warned.