Etgen wants to stop the use of Glyphosate, but could not set a deadline
Agriculture minister Fernand Etgen has announced that he wants to ban the potentially carcinogenic herbicide, glyphosate, as quickly as possible, but without giving a deadline.
In an interview with Paperjam on Tuesday 28 November, Etgen said that the vote in the Council of agriculture ministers on extending the licence to sell the weedkiller glyphosate was a surprise. Four member states, who had abstained until then, changed their minds, notably Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. The vote means that glyphosate, a compound of Roundup, can be sold in the EU for another 10 years.
“We don’t approve this vote. The deadline is too long. Furthermore, Monsanto will introduce another licence request by 2022, so we’ll have to start this debate again from scratch.”
The Luxembourg position had been in favour of a phasing out, “to stop the use of glyphosate and develop alternatives in concertation with the agricultural sector, research institutes and any other actors. We would have liked a realistic and detailed exit strategy.”
Etgen warned against setting deadline for banning the use of glyphosate without viable alternatives. He said that “we can take measures against private clients using it”, but it would pose significant challenges for certain farmers, especially for cereal growers.
He had discussed the issue with the chamber of agriculture, whose members were aware of the fact that there would be a time after glyphosate. However, the agriculture minister said he was “hopeful” that alternative solutions would be found, because the agricultural sector was innovative.
There was no point for Luxembourg to “follow the model of the Echternach procession”: it was useless to push ahead only to take a step back afterwards.
Etgen announced a national plan to reduce phytopharmaceutical products, in concertation with all the actors involved, and define together an exit strategy of glyphosate, “because we will stop using this weedkiller as quickly as possible. But I don’t know when…”