EU to propose shorter glyphosate license renewal: sources

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union states will meet next week in an effort to agree a far shorter license renewal for herbicide glyphosate before the current one expires, which would require the phasing out of products such as Monsanto’s Roundup.

The EU executive will put a new proposal for a license renewal of between one and two years to experts from the EU’s 28 nations on June 6, according to EU sources.

The Commission initially proposed a 15-year authorization, which it later cut to nine years, amid a transatlantic row over whether glyphosate may cause cancer.

It twice delayed a vote to extend the license because it lacked sufficient support, following opposition from France and Germany.

Glyphosate is widely used by farmers and gardeners, but approval for its use in the EU expires at the end of June. It is still unclear whether the Commission will have the qualified majority needed for a binding decision, as Germany has said it would abstain from voting because ministries run by different parties in the ruling coalition are at odds.

If no decision is reached, manufacturers will have six months to phase out glyphosate products from the market.

Contradictory findings on its carcinogenic risks by various scientific bodies and public campaigning by citizens groups and non-governmental organizations have thrust glyphosate into the center of a dispute among EU and U.S. politicians, regulators and researchers.

Earlier this month, German chemicals group Bayer offered $62 billion to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto, despite German resistance to glyphosate and Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds.

The Glyphosate Task Force industry lobby said in a statement there was no reason why the ingredient should not be authorized for 15 years and an extension would only postpone a decision.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Alexander Smith