Germany announces plans to ban glyphosate

The European Union has a long-running battle with the controversial weed killer, glyphosate. And now, the German government has announced that it plans to ban it altogether by the end of 2023.

As part of measures to protect the environment and public health, glyphosate will be restricted in Germany straight away. From 2023, will face further restrictions, in a move that  Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) says should lead to a 75% reduction in the use of pesticides.

From 2021, an action plan will be implemented that will bring new insect protection laws. It will also include additional spending of 100 million euros for the conservation of insect populations, and a further 50 million into research of new conservation projects.

In addition to this, there will be strict rules to restrict the use of weed killers. Under these rules, glyphosate can only be used until the end of 2023. And even now, there will be restrictions on its use in some circumstances, like protected areas, public green spaces, and in farms before harvesting.

Glyphosate is the world’s most commonly used herbicide. However, it’s come under fire in recent years. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) deemed that it was “probably carcinogenic”. 

Despite concerns, the EU Council agreed in 2017 to continue allowing the use of glyphosate for another 5 years. This was a closed vote, and since then, 16 EU countries have introduced restrictions and partial bans on its use, including Austria, which introduced a total ban in July.

Many manufacturers argue that glyphosate can be used safely. For example, German chemical giant Bayer said in a statement: “Such a ban would ignore the overwhelming scientific assessments of competent authorities around the world that have determined for more than 40 years that glyphosate can be used safely.”

Farmers are also disappointed. The German Farmers’ Association (DBV )said: “This package is toxic for farmers”, and that it will “significantly weaken” the farming industry which could result in “more painful cuts to farmers’ incomes”.

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