The SNP Members of the European Parliament Alyn Smith MEP and Ian Hudghton MEP have this week voted against proposals to immediately ban the use of glyphosate in agriculture, but instead supported a more proportionate five year phasing out period during which the industry will be assisted in producing safer, cheaper alternatives.
If no alternatives can be found the door remains open for a further extension of the five year period.
The glyphosate controversy has been long running with the plant protection product widely used in Scottish agriculture but increasing evidence that it has unacceptable residues and wider effects on our ecosystem. The Parliament also voted to increase funds for further research into the chemical as well as alternatives.
The resolution was approved by 355 votes to 204 with 111 abstentions.
Speaking after the vote Alyn Smith MEP said:
"As with all such votes, this was a matter of finding a balance. We're well aware that glyphosate is an important part of Scottish farming but it cannot be denied there is increasing concerning evidence that it has a lot of downsides too. The immediate ban called for by some was in our view disproportionate, so we could not support it, but setting a five year period – to be reviewed – to phase it out will work, and balance the needs of farmers, consumers and our environment.
"We all know full well that there are also alternatives in the works and the chemicals industry needs a prod to get on with working them up into new products, this should do just that."
Ian Hudghton MEP added:
"We have had a lot of lobbying on this complex issue, and it cannot be boiled down to black and white as some would pretend. This is a balanced vote that can be managed by the industry, and I look forward to seeing better, cheaper alternative products come forward."