FILE PHOTO: A can of glyphosate weedkiller is seen in a treated mustard field as French farmer Herve Fouassier attends an interview with Reuters in Ouzouer-sous-Bellegarde, France, November 30, 2017. Picture taken November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will ban the use of the weedkiller glyphosate – the subject of billion-dollar U.S lawsuits over claims it causes cancer – from the end of 2023 and limit its use before then, the Environment Ministry said on Wednesday.
Germany’s move comes after Austria’s lower house of parliament in July passed a bill banning all uses of glyphosate and after some 20 French mayors last month banned it from their municipalities, defying the government.
Bayer disagreed with Germany’s decision, saying: “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.”
Glyphosate is cleared for use in the European Union until December 2022. Glyphosate-based herbicides are the most commonly applied weed control products in the world.
The German government said it would systematically reduce the use of herbicides containing glyphosate from 2020.
It said there would be a substantial reduction in the quantity of herbicides containing glyphosate being sprayed – due to bans on use in private homes and gardens plus public areas as well as a ban on use before harvests and considerable restrictions on use before sowing and after harvests.
Glyphosate was developed by Monsanto under the brand Roundup. It is now off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups including Dow Agrosciences and Germany’s BASF.
Concerns about its safety emerged when a World Health Organization agency concluded in 2015 that it probably causes cancer.
Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, says studies and regulators have deemed glyphosate and Roundup safe for human use. The company faces lawsuits over claims the product causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chamber and Louise Heavens