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Austrian parliament approves total glyphosate ban

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Vienna (AFP)

Austria's parliament on Tuesday approved a complete ban on glyphosate, putting the country on track to becoming the first EU member to forbid all use of the controversial herbicide.

Deputies voted in favour of a bill brought by the Social Democratic party to ban glyphosate products, suspected of causing cancer, as a "precautionary" measure.

The weedkiller has been closely connected with Roundup, a flagship product marketed worldwide by US giant Monsanto which was taken over by Germany's Bayer in 2018.

Under fire for the takeover, the German company has vowed more "transparency" during the process of renewing the licence of glyphosate in the European Union.

It has insisted however that glyphosate "will continue to play an important role in agriculture and in Bayer?s portfolio".

Glyphosate is classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organisation (WHO), but the EU in December 2017 renewed the licence of the weedkiller across Europe for five years.

Roundup has been the subject of three costly judgements in California in recent months and is now the subject of more than 13,000 claims in the United States.

Among Austria's EU partners, France said in 2017 it hoped to ban glyphosate within three years, but President Emmanuel Macron has since said such a move could not be "100 percent".

Critics of the Austrian move say that it may be illegal under EU law for individual members to ban substances that have been approved for use by the EU.

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