Greens call on Commission to reject relicensing of glyphosate, as EU countries fail to agree on controversial weedkiller

European governments have again refused to support a European Commission plan to grant the relicensing of glyphosate, Europe’s most widely used weedkiller that has been linked to cancer and environmental harm. The current authorisation runs out on 15th December and the renewal of the licence has faced opposition from some member states, including France. Last month MEPs voted for a five-year phase-out and full ban of glyphosate by 2022.

Commenting, Molly, who is a member of the European Parlaiment’s Agriculture Committee, said:

“Once again the Commission have failed to come to an agreement with member states about the renewal of the licence for the herbicide glyphosate. Time is running out but to push through relicencing without the backing of European governments would be to ignore the huge pressure from civil society and from some countries in the EU who want to see this toxic substance banned.  

“As Greens we will continue to support a full ban on a substance which is linked to some cancers and damages biodiversity and soil health. We also recognise that farmers need time to adapt to non-chemical farming methods and to be given access to viable and affordable alternatives. A five-year phase out, supported by a majority of MEPs, would give time for this transition.”

Dr Scott Cato also called on the UK to ban glyphosate and support farmers make the transition to chemical-free farming methods:  

“In the UK, we need a clear guarantee from Michael Gove that he will not give the green light to toxic substances in our farming and provide sufficient subsidies for British farmers in the future. His announcement today that he will support a ban on insect-harming neonicotinoids is welcome, but his approach to glyphosate is a much clearer test of whether he supports the precautionary principle. Will he work to stop practices suspected of doing harm to human health or the environment? Or will he side with agribusiness and farmers organisations who insist glyphosate is essential for farming?

“There is a growing body of evidence that says there can be a prosperous future for agriculture without glyphosate and other dangerous toxins. A wide range of alternative approaches to tackling weeds exist and are being successfully used across Europe. Organic farmers already use non-chemical methods which result in organic farms having 50% more abundant plant, insect and bird life.”