EU postpones vote on weedkiller glyphosate as dispute over safety rages
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The EU on Wednesday postponed a vote on proposals to renew the controversial weedkiller glyphosate, which critics say causes cancer and which the European Parliament wants banned in five years' time.
A panel of experts from the EU's 28 member states met behind closed doors to consider plans to extend the European licence for glyphosate -- the key ingredient in best-selling weedkiller Roundup -- for five to seven years.
The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, had originally recommended approving the herbicide's use for another 10 years but watered it down amid growing uproar over the alleged dangers of its use.
"The Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed met today to discuss renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate. At the conclusion of the meeting, no vote was taken," the commission said in a statement.
"The commission took note of the positions of the different delegations of member states, upon which it will now reflect, and will announce the date of the next meeting shortly."
Glyphosate critics, led by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, are calling for an outright ban in Europe and on Monday activists handed the EU a petition signed by more than 1.3 million people backing such a move.
The European Parliament on Monday said glyphosate should be renewed only until 2022 and banned thereafter, calling for a halt to non-professional use of the herbicide when its current licence expires on December 15.
France said Wednesday it is prepared to accept a four-year licence extension for the controversial weedkiller in order to reach a consensus among EU countries. Paris had been in favour of a more limited three-year extension but could settle for a European Commission proposal of four years, government spokesman Christophe Castaner told reporters.
Monsanto, the US agro giant that makes Roundup, insists glyphosate meets the standards required to renew its European licence.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)