European Union renews licence for controversial herbicide glyphosate for 5 years


European Union countries today voted to renew for five years the license of the glyphosate weedkiller, a key ingredient in Monsanto's (MON +0.2%) Roundup, Ireland's Independent reports.

Just two weeks after the European Commission failed to secure a majority, an intervention on Monday meant 18 of 28 EU states were now in favour and glyphosate was granted a new five-year licence. Although, Angela Merkel, the chancellor, has been unable to form a coalition government after the country's recent election, the caretaker government swung its support in favor of the weed killer.

France remained opposed and there was anger with the outcome.

But President Emmanuel Macron said he tasked the government "to take the necessary measures so that the use of glyphosate is forbidden in France as soon as alternatives are found, and at the latest in three years". The European Chemical Agency said in March this year, however, there was no evidence linking it to cancer in humans. It also reduces the need for ploughing, which benefits the environment and enables farmers to apply no tillage, which reduces soil erosion, and keeps soil organic matters up.

"Habemus glyphosate" say Brussels as Monday's appeal committee meeting, maybe the last chance for the bloc to "save" the "probably carcinogenic" substance, one of the most widely used herbicides.

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Earlier this month, COCERAL, the European Union cereals and oilseeds industry representatives, expressed serious concern that a failure to reauthorize herbicide would undermine trade and jeopardize the supply of grain and oilseeds to the EU.

Greenpeace's Franziska Achterberg said: "The people who are supposed to protect us from unsafe pesticides have failed to do their jobs and betrayed the trust Europeans place in them".

Mr Schmidt is from the Merkel-allied CSU party, while Ms Hendricks is part of the Social Democrats.

Environmental campaigners like Greenpeace have been calling for an outright ban in Europe for glyphosate.

The approval also came after the Greens moved out of the picture as a possible coalition partner.