Tuesday, December 5, 2017

German Ag Minister "Goes Rogue," Casts Deciding Yes Vote on EU Glyphosate License; Alternative Herbicides Under Review in France and Italy

German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt cast the deciding vote
EU activists hoping to ban glyphosate lost the battle to block the herbicide's license renewal on the continent when Germany's Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt voted yes on the issue instead of obtaining permission from his superior, Prime Minister Angela Merkel, according to news reports.

German's Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks opposed the renewal (echoing a similarly structured divide that had previously happened in France in the pre-Macron era) and said Schmidt knowingly voted yes instead of abstaining on the vote.

According to Politico, Hendricks said "Schmidt had acknowledged her objection in a text message ahead of the vote, meaning that the German government should have abstained."  

Anti-glyphosate activism in Toulouse, France

The German Green Party is now calling for Schmidt to resign.

German chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked Schmidt for his vote, saying, according to Quartz, that his "decision went against agreements we have made in government - these also apply to the current caretaker government."

The vote took place as German-based Bayer has announced it plans to acquire Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, in which the main active ingredient is glyphosate, in a $66 billion deal.

In the meantime, France and Italy announced they will phase out the herbicide over the next three years.

Alternative herbicides are in development and leaders expressed optimism about switching to safer herbicides in the near future. 

Countries that voted yes on glyphosate included: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.

Countries that voted against the license renewals included: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and Malta.

Abstaining: Portugal.