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Pesticides are applied to a rapeseed field on the outskirts of Dresden

Photo: Sylvio Dittrich / IMAGO

The European Commission has proposed an extension of the authorisation for the herbicide glyphosate. According to the draft, the remedy could be used for another ten years. "Our proposal is based on scientifically sound information," said a spokesman for the EU Commission. According to the documents, certain conditions are provided for its use, such as risk mitigation measures. For example, the aim is to prevent glyphosate from being severely blown away during application.

Glyphosate is still approved throughout the EU until 15 December. Environmental protection organizations see glyphosate as a danger to people and the environment, but the manufacturer Bayer vehemently rejects this. At the end of July, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an investigation in which it had seen no unacceptable hazards, but data gaps in several areas.

Approval in Germany uncertain

In doing so, the EU Commission is opposing demands from Germany. Germany no longer wants to approve glyphosate from the beginning of 2024. Even if an authorisation is extended at EU level, the product could be banned in Germany.

"As long as it cannot be ruled out that glyphosate harms biodiversity, the permit should expire in the EU," said Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens). A diverse and intact flora and fauna is the prerequisite for safe harvests. He will now exchange views with partners in the EU.

For the study, EFSA said it had looked at thousands of studies and scientific articles in a three-year process. Among the aspects that have not been conclusively clarified are, for example, nutritional risks for consumers and the assessment of risks for aquatic plants, as EFSA announced. Also with regard to species conservation, the available information did not allow any clear conclusions.

The proposal will now be put to a vote by the 27 EU member states. A "qualified majority" of 15 members, representing at least 65 percent of the EU population, is required to either support or oppose the proposal.