EU delays vote on renewing controversial weedkiller licence

Glyphosate licence is due to expire this December, but member states still haven't reached a consensus on its renewal. The Commission said it won't extend it unless they do. [Damian Gretka/Shutterstock]

The EU on Wednesday (25 October) postponed a vote on renewing the licence for the controversial weedkiller glyphosate, which the European Parliament wants to ban in five years’ time amid criticism that it may cause cancer.

A panel of experts from the EU’s 28 member states met behind closed doors to consider plans to extend the European licence for glyphosate – the key ingredient in best-selling weedkiller Roundup — for five to seven years.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, had originally recommended approving the herbicide’s use for another 10 years but watered it down amid growing uproar over the alleged dangers of its use.

MEPs call for complete glyphosate ban in 2020

As a petition against glyphosate continues to amass support from European citizens, MEPs adopted on Thursday (19 October) a resolution calling for a total ban on the weed killer from 2020. EU member states will vote on the renewal of the glyphosate licence on 25 October. EURACTIV France reports.

“The Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed met today to discuss renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate. At the conclusion of the meeting, no vote was taken,” the Commission said in a statement.

“The Commission took note of the positions of the different delegations of member states, upon which it will now reflect, and will announce the date of the next meeting shortly.”

Glyphosate critics, led by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, are calling for an outright ban in Europe and on Monday activists handed the EU a petition signed by more than 1.3 million people backing such a move.

The European Parliament said on Monday glyphosate should be renewed only until 2022 and banned thereafter, calling for a halt to non-professional use of the herbicide when its current licence expires on December 15.

Monsanto, the US agro-giant that produces Roundup, insists glyphosate meets the standards required to renew its European licence.

French MEP: Difficult but possible to find glyphosate alternative in 5 years

It will be really difficult but not impossible to find an alternative to the controversial glyphosate weedkiller by the end of 2022, French MEP Angélique Delahaye told EURACTIV in Strasbourg after European Parliament approved a five-year phase-out.

French MEP Angélique Delahaye, rapporteur on the file for the European People’s Party (EPP) said: "Nothing surprising about the result, or rather, regarding the "no result", obtained today in the Committee of Experts on the proposal of the European Commission for a renewal for 10 years of the active substance glyphosate. We have already lost enough time like that. Member States must take their responsibility before 31 December. They must be clear about the renewal or not, and if so, what transitional period to put in place to allow for alternatives to emerge. The European Parliament has twice taken up its responsibilities in this area ".

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