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Germany moves to ban glyphosate weed killer by 2023

Roundup glyphosate herbicide sprayed on a field in France
Roundup glyphosate herbicide sprayed on a field in France Jean-Francois Monier/AFP

Germany is to ban the use of the controversial herbicide glyphosate by 2023, because of its impact on insect populations and biodiversity. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, which the German company Bayer bought from US agribusiness Monsanto last year.


The German government announced it would start a gradual phasing out of the product starting next year because it wipes out insect populations that are crucial for food crop pollination and ecosystem maintenance.

The chemical will be fully banned by 2023, when the EU’s current approval period for the use of the chemical ends.

"What harms insects also harms people," said Germany's environment minister Svenja Schulze at a press conference Wednesday, adding that "a world without insects is not worth living in".

Step by step

Germany will roll out its ban in multiple phases, according to the policy roadmap which sets the basis for new laws and regulations.

A first phase would see the use glyphosate in city parks and private gardens banned from next year. The use of herbicides and insecticides will also be restricted or banned in areas with rich biodiversity, like grasslands and along river and lake shores.

Austria became the first EU member to forbid all glyphosate use in July. The Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands have restrictions in place.

France initially said it would phase out its use by 2021, though the date has been pushed to 2023, in the face of resistance from farmers, who say it is the most effective way to kill weeds.

Bayer protested the ban, arguing the chemical can be used safely and is "an important tool for ensuring both the sustainability and productivity of agriculture".

The company has also been facing lawsuits, from the US and elsewhere, from people who claim glyphosate causes cancer. Bayer says studies have shown the chemical is safe, but several juries have awarded damages.

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