EU renews licence for controversial weedkiller for five years

Brussels (AFP) –


EU states on Monday renewed the licence for the controversial weedkiller glyphosate for five years, in a surprise decision to break a long stalemate over a substance that critics say causes cancer.

Heavyweight Germany dropped its opposition to the pesticide, introduced in 1974 by US agro-giant Monsanto as Roundup, after overcoming doubts about its use, EU officials said.

Eighteen of the 28 members states voted in favour of the European Commission's proposal for a five-year renewal, with nine including France voting against, and one abstaining.

"Today's vote shows that when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making," EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement.

Divisions over the weedkiller within the EU have dragged on since June 2016, when its previous 15-year licence expired and an 18-month extension was granted.

Two weeks ago the European Commission, the EU executive, fell short of the majority needed to renew the licence when it expires on December 15, as only half of the 28 member states voted for its proposal.

Germany abstained from the last vote, but on Monday Berlin changed its mind after receiving assurances on animal welfare and private use of the weedkiller, a source close to the matter said.