Malta is set to become the first EU country to ban immediately the use of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate, which was reauthorised for 18 months only by the European Commission this month despite Malta’s opposition.
An Environment Ministry spokeswoman told the Times of Malta that the government had begun the process of banning the chemical, which is considered a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organisation cancer agency.
“Malta’s position remains against the use of glyphosate and Malta voted against it without reservations,” the spokeswoman said, confirming that the pesticide regulator was currently implementing political direction given by the Ministry towards a ban.
In comments to this newspaper yesterday, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth Malta applauded the government’s decision, describing it as a victory for civil society.
“The decision shows courage from government’s side as it chose to listen to the concerns of experts and individuals who have demanded that our fields, streets and gardens would be free from this risky weed killer.
“We also hope that other European countries grab this opportunity to make European farming safer and greener, which is what the public wants.”
The European Commission controversially approved a temporary 18-month extension of the licence for glyphosate, despite a lack of agreement from member states, allowing time for new studies into claims the substance could cause cancer.