Spraying glyphosate© Tim Scrivener

A new coalition government in Germany would move to phase out and ultimately ban glyphosate herbicides, according to reports.

Talks are under way between German chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany party and the Social Democrats (SPD) to form the next German coalition government.

If a new coalition government is formed between the two parties, one of the goals would be to reduce and ultimately ban the use of glyphosate weedkiller in Germany.

See also: Video – farmers explain why glyphosate is vital

Such a decision would have massive implications for the future of no-till and conservation agriculture in Germany.

It would also reopen the debate over the future of glyphosate – the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide – which had its EU licence renewed for a reduced five-year period after intense scrutiny and debate over its safety.

In December, German farm minister Christian Schmidt acted alone and voted in favour of relicensing glyphosate in Europe without the backing of Germany’s Environment Ministry and without consulting Mrs Merkel.

His decision allowed the European Commission’s Appeal Committee to gain a qualified majority for the approval of glyphosate use in Europe for a further five years.

Leaked report

In a leaked document outlining key points in the German coalition government talks, which was handed to Reuters news agency, the future of glyphosate use takes centre stage.

Under a section entitled “Farming”, the document states that the coalition looks to “systematically and significantly limit use of weedkiller glyphosate with the aim of entirely ending use of plant protection agents that contain this as quickly as possible.”

In a further blow to farming innovation, the new coalition plans to “agree ban on cultivating genetically modified plants nationwide”.

Any decision by Germany to ban the use of glyphosate on its own territory would send shockwaves across the EU and threaten the future renewal of glyphosate use across the continent.

Brexit effect

However, by the time glyphosate’s licence is next up for EC renewal in 2022, the UK will have left the EU.

The UK government has stated it backs the continued use of glyphosate. However, a ban in Germany and ultimately in Europe would seriously affect the trade of food and agricultural products across the EU.

Meanwhile, environment and agricultural ministers of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Malta and Greece wrote to the European Commission on 19 December seeking a new study into the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate as well as identifying alternatives to the world’s most widely used herbicide.