15-Mar-2017 @ 17:00
Glyphosate ruling should end hysteria and provide certainty for farmers
The world's most widely used weed killer glyphosate should not be classified as a carcinogen, the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) Risk Assessment Committee concluded today.
The opinion follows more than a year of debate over glyphosate’s future in the EU, with many environmental groups calling for it to be banned. In a bid to buy some time and bring greater scientific clarity to the debate, ECHA was tasked with developing a harmonised classification on the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.
Julie Girling MEP, Conservative Spokesman on the Environment and Public Health, and also a member of the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, hailed the opinion as “a means to finally end the hysteria and start working on the basis of robust scientific evidence.”
“This opinion confirms what the EU and other scientific bodies have been saying since this debate began in 2015. It represents the first step in restoring certainty for farmers so that they can continue responsibly using this important substance to provide us with safe and nutritious food.”
The Commission must now take into account the newly agreed classification when deciding on the renewal of the approval of glyphosate.
Mrs Girling added: “It is my hope that, with positive opinions from ECHA and also the European Food Safety Authority, a full renewal of glyphosate’s authorisation is only a matter of time”.
Glyphosate, originally marketed under the trade name Roundup, now accounts for about 25 per cent of the global herbicide market. In the EU, glyphosate-based herbicides are used for weed control for a wide range of crops including cereals, oilseed rape, maize, beans and sugar beet. Several European countries, including Germany, use glyphosate herbicides on almost half of their total crop area.
Glyphosate products are also widely used by gardeners and for weed control in forestry and aquatic environments. More than 300 glyphosate herbicides from more than 40 different companies are currently registered for sale in Europe, many of which are available in gardening and hardware stores.
A report last year by ADAS, the UK's largest agricultural consultancy, estimated a total ban on glyphosate would reduce UK production of winter wheat and winter barley by 12 per cent and oilseed rape by 10 per cent, costing the industry £551 million a year.
The RSPB cites glyphosate as key to controlling bracken and rushes, while the chemical is widely used to control weeds on airport runways and railway lines.