A European Union vote on whether to renew approval for the weedkiller glyphosate has been postponed for the second time.
The European Commission decided to postpone the vote, which had been expected to take place on Thursday (19 May).
It comes amid ongoing differences of scientific opinion as to whether glyphosate is carcinogenic.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer – part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – had previously found a link to cancer.
But the European Food Safety Authority said last year that the product was safe.
There is no sense behind this delay and we look to Member States to support an evidence-based, full reapproval at the earliest possible opportunity Guy Smith, NFU vice-president
The current licence for glyphosate expires at the end of June.
The commission could still approve the licence under its own jurisdiction but it is understood that it wants to secure the backing of member states.
France opposes renewing the licence. But as many as six other countries are believed to be undecided with two thought to be prepared to abstain from the vote.
Even so, UK farm representatives criticised the decision to delay the vote.
A position had been due from the Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed earlier today, but after lengthy talks, the meeting ended without a decision.
It now remains to be seen whether a vote will take place in the coming weeks or whether the commission will be required to cast the deciding vote.
Ultimately if no decision is reached before 30 June, products containing glyphosate will be withdrawn from the market.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said he was “nothing short of exasperated” as to why glyphosate couldn’t simply and quickly be reauthorised – as had been recommended by EU food safety experts.
“Some member states in the committee are prevaricating and wasting time when they could be taking decisions based on scientific evidence.
“Glyphosate is a pesticide which allows farmers to combat weeds while supporting cultivation methods that can preserve good soil structure.
“There is no sense behind this delay and we look to Member States to support an evidence-based, full reapproval at the earliest possible opportunity.”