Glyphosate update: weedkiller gets five-year renewal

Glyphosate update: weedkiller gets five-year renewal

The weedkiller Glyphosate has been renewed for five years following a meeting of the relevant European Appeals Committee today (Monday 27 November).

The decision brings the sage of whether the product, which is the world's most widely used weedkiller, would continue to be available for use to a close - for the next five years at least. After that time, a new EU renewal application will be required.

A vote taken by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (ScoPaff) on 9 November failed to achieve a majority, and so the decision fell to an EU appeals committee.

Fears have been raised about potential carcinogenic properties of the non-selective weedkiller, which was first marketed by Monsanto in 1974, but since 2000 has been sold by various manufacturers.

The most famous product to contain glyphosate remains Monsanto's Roundup, widely used in homes as well as on the golf course. Glyphosate is the world's most widely used weedkiller and made up a third of Monsanto's total sales in 2015.

The weedkiller is so widely used that almost all Europeans have significant traces of Glyphosate within their bodies.

Twenty-one countries at the SCoPAFF meeting voted in favour of renewing glyphosate's licence for five years. The expectation is that this period would allow member countries to continue exploring alternative methods for when it is eventually revoked.

Malta was the one country to vote against the renewal, while the remaining countries abstained. Despite the majority of countries voting in favour, three of the most populated countries within the European Union - France, Germany and Italy - all abstained, meaning the vote failed to achieve the required 65% of the EU population, required for a qualified majority.

France had initially shown an intention to vote against the renewal, but pressure from farmers' unions swayed them towards abstaining from the vote.

The decision on the renewal of glyphosate was required prior to the expiry date on 15 December.

In 2012 it was reported that bluegrass turfgrass was beginning to develop a resistance to glyphosate, and so a solution may soon be required for golf courses, regardless of the EU committee's eventual decision.