Farm unions call for glyphosate support

The European farmer and co-operative bodies Copa and Cogeca have written to the EU Commission and all MEPs calling for them to keep the herbicide glyphosate on the EU market.  

While the EU’s Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has ruled that the active ingredient is “unlikely to be genotoxic … or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans”, the European Parliament has delayed a decision on its reauthorisation for the next 15 year period.    

Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of Copa and Cogeca, said: “After EFSA confirmed its safety, we expect the EU Commission to extend the authorisation in June. Glyphosate is widely used in herbicides in all EU member states and is a key part of farmers’ tool boxes due to its availability and cost-effective price. Without this, cereal crops as well as vineyards, fruit and olive production across Europe, would be seriously threatened. This would be unacceptable given the current agricultural crisis and the need to meet growing world food demand. Chemical control is also a prerequisite for some farming practices such as no-till and minimum tillage that contribute to less greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion. 

“Moreover, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Not approving this active substance would consequently benefit non-EU countries that export to the EU. We therefore urge the EU to maintain this product on the market.” 

• In the UK, the NFU cites ADAS figures estimating that the arable glyphosate market is worth €633 million a year. Loss of the active could see a 12% reduction in winter wheat and winter barley crops and 10% of oilseed rape. In addition, its absence would make it difficult for livestock farmers, especially dairy herds, to tackle invasive and poisonous species such as ragwort in grassland. 

The Union is urging all its members and other interested parties to write to their MEPs on the issue.