Environment Minister José Herrera has expressed disappointment at the “regrettable” EU decision to renew the licence for the controversial weedkiller glypho-sate for another five years.

Malta was one of nine countries to vote against extending the licence in an appeal committee of European Union governments on Monday, amid fears the chemical causes cancer.

However, the votes of 18 other countries were enough to secure a razor-thin qualified majority in favour of extending the licence after months of inconclusive votes and just weeks before the current licence expired.

Read: EU votes to extend weed-killer glyphosate licence

Mr Herrera told the Times of Malta that the government’s opposition to glyphosate had remained consistent through several rounds of negotiation, and the EU’s decision went against the pleas of citizens and reputable environmental groups.

“EU citizens will not necessarily be better off just because glyphosate has been extended by five years instead of the originally proposed 15 years.

Monsanto has ghost-written studies and paid scientists covertly

“It is more of a missed opportunity to send out a strong message that our environment and our health matters most,” the environment minister said.

“Our position remained sensitive to environmental and health issues, giving weight to various scientific studies and concerns raised by several eNGOs.”

Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth Malta said the EU “had failed to seize the opportunity” to end glyphosate, putting citizens’ health at risk.

“Glyphosate damages nature, probably causes cancer, and props up an industrial farming system that is degrading the land we need to feed ourselves. The approval, even if only for five years, is a missed opportunity to get rid of this risky weedkiller and start to get farmers off the chemical treadmill,” it said.

“The EU’s food safety watchdog has given glyphosate a clean bill of health but has been accused of plagiarism by copying the main safety arguments from the industry’s application.

“Papers released in the US reveal that the main producer of glyphosate, Monsanto, has been ghost-writing safety studies, covertly paying European scientists and has unduly influenced regulatory authorities to support the continued use of glyphosate.”

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