Germany swings European Union vote on controversial weedkiller glyphosate

A demonstrator with a mask of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, center, and others play a mock game of tug of war to highlight the glyphosate issue in front of EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

Germany defeated its key European Union ally France in a very tight vote on Monday to clear the use of weed-killer glyphosate for the next five years after a heated debate over whether it causes cancer.

The Commission is willing to adopt the decision before the current authorization expires on 15 December, via a draft implementing act, after the appeal committee's positive opinion.

Glyphosate - introduced under the name Roundup by U.S. agriculture giant Monsanto in 1974 - previously had a 15-year licence but it expired in June 2016.

Glyphosate, the key ingredient in the world's bestselling weedkiller, has won a new five-year lease in Europe, closing the most bitterly fought pesticide relicensing battle of recent times.

"The people who are supposed to protect us from risky pesticides have failed to do their jobs and betrayed the trust Europeans place in them", Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said.

Macron promises French glyphosate ban

The EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said: "Today's vote shows that when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making". We have been given a 5 year extension.

One official said that 18 member states voted in favour, 9 against and one abstained.

The UK and 17 other European Union member states yesterday backed a five year extension to glyphosate's licence, which was due to expire next month. It also reduces the need for ploughing, which benefits the environment and enables farmers to apply no tillage, which reduces soil erosion, and keeps soil organic matters up.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organisation, classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans in 2015. The Commission and Parliament position were based on findings from the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency, who both concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to be a carcinogen.

Politically, Monday's approval proved toxic in Berlin.

However, there was controversy in Germany yesterday after its Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt voted in fvour of the motion without consent from the Environmental Minister.