Glyphosate given last-minute stay of execution

Farmers will be allowed to use glyphosate for a further 18 months after European Union officials gave the widely used herbicide a last-minute stay of execution.

European health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis confirmed the 18-month extension to the licence for glyphosate at a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday (28 June).

See also: EU deadlock as glyphosate deadline looms

Growers and other users had faced the prospect of glyphosate being withdrawn had its licence not been reapproved by a 30 June deadline.

Glyphosate has been the subject of increased controversy over recent years – particularly regarding whether or not it causes cancer.

Some studies have suggested that the chemical is a carcinogen. But the European Food Safety Authority’s conclued that glyphosate was “unlikely” to cause cancer in humans.

But repeated votes by EU member states were unable to reach the majority necessary for the product to be reapproved.

The European Commission’s decision to relicense glyphosate for 18 months seeks to allow time for the European Agency for Chemical Products (ECHA) to reassess the safety of the product.

Although much shorter than a previous proposal to relicence glyphosate for 15 years, the 18-month approval will be welcomed by growers who rely on the agrochemcal.

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