The most commonly used type of weedkiller, which includes Roundup, could be banned from use in the European Union within weeks amid concerns it might cause cancer.
It had been expected that the license to use glyphosate-based herbicides in the EU, which runs until 30 June, would be extended for up to 15 years.
But, amid disagreement between EU member states, a vote on relicensing has now been postponed for a second time with officials deciding it would not be possible to get a large enough majority for a binding decision.
While the UK and 18 other countries support the use of glyphosate, France and Italy threatened to vote against while Germany, whose own government is split on the issue, and six other countries planned to abstain.
“Since it was obvious that no qualified majority would have been reached, a vote was not held,” a Commission spokeswoman told Reuters.
Greenpeace’s EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg accused the European Commission of favouring attempts to relicense the weedkiller.
“The Commission has continued to ignore the concerns of independent scientists, MEPs and European citizens,” she said. “It’s time for the Commission to change course.”
Glyphosate had been viewed as one of the safest herbicides until the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced that it “probably” caused cancer last year.
However, since then the WHO itself has said glyphosate, which has been found in human urine and breast milk, is unlikely to pose a risk to anyone who eats food contaminated with it.
Campaign group Pesticide Action Network UK said in a statement: “It is clear that there is serious disagreement among Member States about how, or if, this probable carcinogen should be approved for use across the EU.
“Whilst no new deadline for a decision has yet been set, if there is no decision by 30 June it is possible that the use of glyphosate in all areas – including agriculture – will be banned as this is when its current approval period comes to an end.”
It added that the public did “not want this toxic poison to be used to grow our food, contaminate our parks and playgrounds or be sprayed in our home gardens”.
Bayer has recently made a bid to takeover Monsanto.
One tiny step forward here in Huonbrook when Council used whipper snippers instead of spraying sections of the road verges.