EU member states have voted in favor of extending the license for controversial weedkiller glyphosate. Eighteen of the EU’s 28 member states approved the extension.
An appeal committee of the EU’s executive arm has granted an extension of the license for the weed killer after a motion earlier this month failed to produce the necessary votes.
Of the 28 member states, 18 voted in favor of the extension, nine voted against and one abstained. At least 16 votes were required to renew glyphosate’s license. The weedkiller is best known for its use in Monsanto-brand weedkiller Roundup.
The European Commission, which tabled the extension, said in a statement: “The proposal voted today enjoys the broadest possible support by the Member States while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment in line with EU legislation. The Commission will not adopt the decision before the current authorization expires on 15 December…”
According to EU circles, Germany was among the countries that voted in favor of the extension, after having abstained in the previous round of voting. Berlin reportedly changed its mind after receiving assurances from the Commission on animal welfare and private use of the weedkiller.
The controversial weed killer has been under the spotlight in the EU since June 2016, when its previous 15-year license expired and an 18-month extension was granted. The current license expires on December 15.
Originally, the Commission had intended to allow glyphosate to be used for another 10 years before reducing it to five years, which, however, again failed to secure the necessary votes.
According to the commission, 14 countries voted in favor on November 9, nine against and five abstained.
Protests in Brussels
Protesters were once again camped outside the European Commission building on Monday, holding banners saying “democracy vs. glyphosate” and wearing masks showing skulls or Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s face.
Glyphosate – often known by its Monsanto brand name Roundup – is the world’s most widely used herbicide. In Germany alone, farmers treat about 40 percent of arable land with it.
Critics say it’s carcinogenic and negatively affects biodiversity, but many farmers say there is no viable, cost-effective alternative and that banning it will push food prices up.
Since Monsanto’s patent on glyphosate, which it had held since 1974, expired in 2000, it has become cheaper and its use has become more widespread.