NFU Scotland has welcomed confirmation that the use of the popular herbicide, glyphosate, has been given a last-minute stay of execution for 18 months.
On Tuesday (28 June) European health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis confirmed that the licence for glyphosate had been approved. Growers and other users had faced the prospect of glyphosate being withdrawn had its licence not been reapproved by a 30 June deadline.
Although this is good news for Scottish farmers, who can continue to use the product as both a herbicide and a pre-harvest desiccant, NFU Scotland has stressed the importance of this 18-month period being used for the European Agency for Chemical Products to reassess the safety of the product.
Earlier in June, the UK farming unions wrote to the European policymakers and elected officials to stress the importance of the reauthorisation of glyphosate.
The unions stated at the time that there was no well-reasoned argument to hold back a full re-authorisation of glyphosate in line with the regulations. However, the decision-making process in Europe regarding the use of glyphosate has become highly politicised.
President Allan Bowie commented: “Our farmers need glyphosate to provide a safe, secure and affordable food supply while increasingly responding to consumer demand for greater environmental sensitivity.
“This licence extension is good news for Scottish farmers. However, we now have 18 months for the science to further prove that it is safe to use and provide reassurance to consumers about its safety when it comes to food production.
“While a hugely important herbicide for farming, its application pre-harvest as a desiccant has been crucial to Scottish farmers where harvesting conditions can be more challenging.
“The re-authorisation, although only for 18 months, will come as a relief to growers in Scotland and we urge them, when using glyphosate in the future, to continue to use it responsibly and in line with manufacturer recommendations so that we have the best chance of this vital herbicide remaining in our plant protection armoury for many years ahead.
“What we need to work towards now is a longer-term decision on the use of glyphosate and we will be working with the UK unions to press for European officials to make that decision in due course.”