EU Fails To Agree On License Extension For Glyphosate
The future of the world’s most widely-used herbicide, glyphosate, appears to be hanging in the balance, after European Union (EU) members failed to reach an agreement regarding the extension of its license.
A controversial chemical
The reason there has been much debate and disagreement regarding the license extension of glyphosate is that this widely-used weed killing chemical is currently surrounded by controversy. The World Health Organisation has claimed that glyphosate is possibly carcinogenic, and until further scientific research is conducted to verify these claims, there is a big question mark hanging over its future.
The EU proposal
The proposal to extend the license of glyphosate for 12-18 months failed to reach a majority verdict by EU member states. Although 20 member states, including the UK, voted in favour of the proposal – and there needs to be at least 16 countries in agreement to pass it – this still was not enough to meet approval, based on population figures. A majority verdict of more than 65% of the EU population needs to be met for a proposal approval, and this was not reached in this instance.
This is not the first time that EU member states have failed to come to an agreement regarding the licensing of glyphosate. Plans to relicense this contentious herbicide for nine years and 15 years did not meet a majority verdict in either case.
Without a majority verdict, it is likely that the decision will now go to an appeal, with abstaining EU member states having the chance to reconsider their vote. If this fails, other options include issuing a temporary license, letting the existing license run its course until it expires on 1 July, or completely taking away the licensing of glyphosate.
Farming organisations are unhappy at this licensing hiccup, and are poised to do legal battle. It is likely there could be a rise in agrochemical headhunting and executive search at this time, to help fight the farming corner. Many agricultural businesses rely on glyphosate as an effective herbicide, and a removal of the license could have a huge impact on the profitability of the farming sector.
Even if the decision is taken to remove the licensing of glyphosate, the question remains as to what effective, alternative options farmers now have to protect their crops? If there are no suitable, equivalent options, there could be a boom in agriculture recruitment, especially within research and development, to produce and market new products that are safer alternatives to glyphosate. In the meantime, scientists will also be in demand within agriculture recruitment to prove just whether glyphosate is actually a danger in the first place.
It is also possible that the EU may decide to put forward a temporary license extension for a short period of time, until further scientific evidence becomes available to substantiate the claim that glyphosate is carcinogenic. Additionally, the EU has the power to put emergency measures into action, which could see glyphosate being available for a further five years, or 120 days for a specific plant protection product.