East Anglian farmers’ leaders welcome EU decision to licence glyphosate for five more years


Guy Smith, NFU. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE - Credit: Archant

East Anglian farmers’ leaders have welcomed a decision by EU member states to extend the licence for controversial weedkiller glyphosate for another five years.

However, the move was condemned by organic farmers’ organisation the Soil Association.

Clacton farmer and National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice president Guy Smith said it was “good news”, while Essex and Cambridgeshire farmer Tim Breitmeyer, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said farmers would “breathe a sigh of relief”.

“I would like to pay tribute to the farmers across the country who have lobbied their MEPs and invited them out on to farm to see first-hand the benefits glyphosate brings, and those who have made the case for glyphosate’s reauthorisation on social media,” said Mr Smith.

“I am convinced their efforts have helped us reach this positive outcome.”

Mr Breitmeyer said: “We are grateful that the UK government has stood firm behind the scientific evidence throughout this saga when many other member states succumbed to the intense pressure placed by campaigning organisations.

“However, this is a temporary reprieve and the EU should move away from the political decision-making that is now prevalent in Brussels, and follow a sound science-based approach. It is time for an urgent rethink of how decisions on these important matters can be made.”

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But Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said: “The weight of scientific evidence suggesting glyphosate is not safe, including evidence from internal Monsanto papers, is increasing all the time.

“The chronic uncertainty that has so delayed a decision by the EU should not stop Michael Gove doing things that everyone agrees on, namely banning the spraying of glyphosate on crops immediately pre-harvest and banning glyphosate use in public places like parks, streets and playgrounds, in line with the European Parliament’s and the Commission’s advice.”