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30.11.2017 |

The time is ripe for a poison-free agriculture

In spite of the EU renewal of glyphosate, herbicides based on the chemical are on their way out and other agrochemicals must follow, says Dr Angelika Hilbeck

The German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt sparked outrage on Monday when he approved a five-year renewal of the EU licence for glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's flagship herbicide Roundup, in spite of opposition from the environment minister Barbara Hendricks. He apparently acted not only without the knowledge of Chancellor Angela Merkel but also counter to the agreed position of the coalition government.

Germany has abstained in past EU votes on glyphosate in deference to the lack of consensus within the government. Schmidt’s unilateral backing for glyphosate allowed the chemical to be re-approved with the backing of a qualified majority of member states, although the Commission was within its rights to approve it unilaterally if no qualified majority for or against was reached, as was the case in previous votes.

Schmidt and Hendricks belong to different political parties that were brought together in Merkel's last coalition government. In the wake of the recent elections in Germany, Merkel is struggling to form a new coalition. Schmidt's "rogue" behaviour on glyphosate has strained the already difficult negotiation process between the potential coalition partners.

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