EU set to delay vote on weed-killer glyphosate

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Health experts from European Union countries are expected to discuss whether or not to extend the license for herbicide glyphosate at a meeting starting on Thursday, but will only vote on the issue later this year.

Europe has been debating for two years whether to allow the weed-killer, used in Monsanto’s Roundup, with no clear majority of countries for or against a license extension and concerns that it is carcinogenic.

The EU granted an 18-month extension in July 2016 pending further scientific study after failing to agree on a proposed 15-year license renewal.

The European Chemical Agency concluded in March that glyphosate, one of the world’s most heavily used weed killers, should not be classified as causing cancer.

The European Commission is now proposing a 10-year extension, but said this will only pass if supported by a clear majority of member states. The standing committee on plant animal food and feed (PAFF), meeting on Thursday and Friday, had been expected to vote on the license for glyphosate but that vote will not now take place.

“Depending on how the discussions evolve there will be another meeting to discuss it and a possible vote. A decision should be taken by the end of the year when the current authorization expires,” a Commission spokeswoman said.

“There will be a meeting of PAFF on October 23 but the agenda is not finalised yet so we don’t know if glyphosate will be on the agenda or not.”

France, which is opposed to a 10-year extension, has put forward the idea of a shorter extension for glyphosate with a view to phasing it out.

“We are working with the member states to find a solution, but the current proposal is for 10 years,” the spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Jane Merriman