EU Fudge Likely To Defeat Green Campaign To Ban Glyphosate

  • Date: 24/10/17
  • Financial Times

France, Germany and Italy are preparing to back a face-saving political compromise over a controversial herbicide, signalling their support for a limited extension for the license to use glyphosate rather than a full 10-year reauthorisation.

The approach is a way for member states to navigate the complex politics around glyphosate — used in Monsanto’s topselling weedkiller Roundup — that has left EU governments caught between farmers who are heavily relying on the herbicide and consumers who have become suspicious of the chemical’s alleged effects on health.

Representatives of the EU’s 28 member states are on Wednesday expected to reject a full approval of glyphosate’s license — which ends on December 15. Paris and Rome have indicated they plan to vote against approving the chemical and Berlin is expected to abstain.

Under the rules, the European Commission could then resubmit a revised proposal for a shorter time period more in line with what countries want. This would open the way for a compromise floated by France and Italy of a licence extension of between three and five years. This could win support from Berlin, where the environmental ministry opposes an extension and the agriculture ministry supports it.

Under pressure from the powerful French farm lobby, Stéphane Travert, the country’s agriculture minister, has pushed for an extension of up to seven years. However, environment minister Nicolas Hulot said on Monday he was confident the EU would ultimately allow a three-year extension of the glyphosate license before a full ban.

“I cannot imagine . . . we will authorise it for 10 years. Not one moment. As far as I am concerned, I hope, it will be largely shorter than five years,” Mr Hulot told RTL radio.

However, any decision would be vulnerable to legal challenge from industrial groups using the chemical. Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU’s health and food safety commissioner, is set to warn on Tuesday of the legal risks of revising the extension period, according to people close to the commission.

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