Germany swings European Union vote in favour of weed-killer glyphosate

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has welcomed the granting of a new five-year licence for glyphosate which was announced today in Brussels.

After a drawn-out process, the European Union backed the extension with a qualified majority.

The UK and 17 other European Union member states yesterday backed a five year extension to glyphosate's licence, which was due to expire next month.

European Union agriculture commissioner, Phil Hogan, welcomed the vote, while his health and food safety counterpart also hailed the fact there was a qualified majority.

One official said that 18 member states voted in favour, 9 against and one abstained. Germany's Social Democrat Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, suggested that the decision was taken without the department's agreement - and in spite of her opposition. Anyone interested in building trust between interlocutors can not behave that way " the Environment Minister added. "Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and environment at risk, and is a major setback to more sustainable farming methods", it said.

In 2015, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, the IARC, famously declared glyphosate "probably carcinogenic to humans", although several global agencies, including Efsa, subsequently came to opposite conclusions.

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Pekka Pesonen, Copa and Cogeca secretary general, said today's decision ends the uncertainty facing farmers and their cooperatives, but he argued that glyphosate should have been reauthorized for 15 years since it was given a positive assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Glyphosate - introduced under the name Roundup by United States agriculture giant Monsanto in 1974 - previously had a 15-year licence but it expired in June 2016. According to the letter, the study was co-authored by a former Monsanto employee.

MEPs discussed the "Monsanto Papers" at a public European Parliament hearing last month.

Campaigners say Monsanto ghostwrote research papers for regulators, enlisted EPA officials to block a U.S. government review of glyphosate and formed front groups to discredit critical scientists and journalists, citing documents revealed in a U.S. lawsuit by non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma sufferers.

France has already said it will unilaterally ban glyphosate within three years.