A poisoned debate

By Christian BlockMisch PautschGilles Kayser Switch to German for original article

In the coming months, a decision on the extension of the glyphosate authorisation can be expected on the European stage. At best, a ban would not catch Luxembourg agriculture unprepared. However, this comes at a price.

When the phase-out of glyphosate, anchored in the coalition programme of 2018, became concrete, Guy Tempels was likewise done with it. Like many of his colleagues, the farmer (and candidate for the parliamentary elections on the southern list of the CSV) made use of the state compensation in the 2019/20 growing season and voluntarily renounced the use of the substance.

From 2021, the use of the herbicide, which has been controversial for years, in agriculture and viticulture in the Grand Duchy was finally over. Until the ruling of the Administrative Court on 30 March this year, when it turned out that the government's "prepared" phase-out of glyphosate lacked – well – preparation. The chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer, which had taken over Monsanto in 2016, had sued against the ban in Luxembourg and won.

Around nine months before the expiry of the EU-wide glyphosate authorisation (on 15 December 2023), the cards were thus reshuffled. Since then, part of the sector can theoretically use the spray again, while farmers like Guy Tempels, who signed up for a voluntary waiver under the landscape management premium, must continue to refrain from doing so.

Theoretically, because in practice the use of the weedkiller is no longer an option for many farmers. In drinking water protection zones, the government has completely banned the use of glyphosate as a result of the ruling. The ban is included in the lease contracts for the land that the state makes available to farmers, as well as in the catalogue of requirements for a state recognition for agricultural product labels. Certain subsidies are also linked to this. For the farmers concerned, "regardless of the verdict or whether they sign (for a voluntary renunciation, editor's note) or not […], they will have to continue to do without [glyphosate], " is how Guy Steichen, crop advisor at the Chamber of Agriculture, sums up the situation.

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