herbicide one use

Fears food commodity prices could rise in the wake of a potential ban on glyphosate look to have been allayed after MEPs voted to approve its use for another seven years.

A motion to renew market approval for the controversial herbicide - also used in consumer weedkiller brands such as Roundup - was passed this week by 374 votes to 225, with 102 abstentions. It came despite calls to ban the product over links its use on crops and cancer, and support for a ban from many member states and the European Parliament’s environment committee.

However, the non-binding resolution - which will need to be ratified by the European Commission - comes with conditions, including a reduction in operating licences from 14 to seven years, in addition to a ban on non-professional use, as well as in and around public parks and playgrounds.

Ensuring the continued availability of glyphosate to UK agriculture was described as a “critical matter” by the National Farmers’ Union, and NFU president Meurig Raymond welcomed the European parliament’s motion.

“It’s fundamental the agriultural sector is able to use glyphosate responsibly in order to produce healthy food products, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and continue to farm sustainably.”

Research by agricultural consultancy ADAS has suggested a ban on glyphosate in the UK on winter wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape would see production value slashed in the region of €633m (£502m) a year.

ADAS warns the resulting tightening of supplies due to spoiled crops could potentially push commodity prices up, with winter wheat and winter barley production potentially reduced by 12% and oilseed rape by 10%, while about 49% more man hours per year would be needed for crop establishment.