The NFU has joined partner farming unions in calling for EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to reauthorise glyphosate.
A joint letter (pdf) from four farming unions – the NFU, NFU Cyrmu, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union – has been sent to Mr Juncker, EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan and EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis.
The call comes ahead of a crucial week for the future of the agrochemical, as EU member states prepare to possibly vote on a five-year renewal on Thursday (9 November) in Brussels.
The letter, signed on behalf of 70,000 UK farmers, says: “Across the UK, farmers are following the ongoing debate on the re-approval of glyphosate with mounting concern.
“The UK farming unions firmly believe that the EU’s science-based decision-making process should be upheld and glyphosate reauthorised for the maximum period possible.”
The letter points out that both the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) and the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) have concluded that glyphosate cannot be considered carcinogenic.
Therefore, there should be no safety concerns related to its reauthorisation for the maximum period of 15 years, it adds.
A EU Commission proposal to reauthorise glyphosate for 10 years ended in a stalemate last month after not enough support was gathered among member states to vote on the matter.
France and Italy indicated they would be opposed to a 10-year renewal and Germany said they would abstain. The commission then proposed a reduced five-year renewal period. The EU licence for the herbicide ends on 15 December.
Farm business consultants Strutt & Parker have released a statement backing the reauthorisation of glyphosate.
Ed Trotter, a farming consultant and agronomist at Strutt & Parker, said: “Much of the opposition to glyphosate seems to be based on an ideology, rather than sound science.
“Campaigners for a ban seem to be in denial about the implications of their actions. Losing glyphosate would completely change the way we farm and have huge implications – for farmers, food production and the environment.”
He added: “It is in no one’s interest to restrict the use of a product that underpins our ability to produce safe and affordable food in a sustainable way.”
How to get involved to make the case for glyphosate
- Write a personal letter to your MEP – personal letters tell your own story and have a bigger impact than emails
- Invite your MEP out on farm – show politicians what glyphosate enables you to do
- Join the social media debate – post messages, pictures or videos on Twitter using the hashtag #glyphosateisvital