States of Carinthia and Tyrol are considering their own bans
The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the two parties that are about to form the new government of Austria, have announced that they want a national ban on glyphosate.
The future Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has said that he wants to phase out glyphosate at a national level. Kurz says Austria now "has to clarify the legal requirements, and wants to orient itself to France and Italy", whose leaders have also both said they want to ban it.
The environmental organizations Global 2000 and Greenpeace welcomed the announcement. Greenpeace Austria said a ban would be "a great victory for the power of people". At the same time, both NGOs called for swift and determined action on the herbicide.
Also, two Austrian states are separately considering banning glyphosate: Carinthia and Tyrol.
The proposed ban in Carinthia has cross-party support, with the ÖVP, SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria), Greens and the FPÖ all backing the move. "We have found a way to ban glyphosate in Carinthia. The Agricultural Department has formulated an appropriate regulation under the Plant Protection Act," said the minister of agriculture Christian Benger (ÖVP).
Benger can formulate the regulation for a possible ban on glyphosate only for agriculture. According to him, the district administrator Rolf Holub of the Greens would have to sign a regulation covering non-agricultural uses, which constitute 85% of glyphosate use in Carinthia.
Benger expects that Holub will sign the regulation, since they agree on the use of glyphosate.
"The time of deaf ears in this important cause seems to be over," Holub said. He added that the Greens would support any measure that would lead to a glyphosate-free Carinthia and added that he is seeking legal advice on the options.
Likewise, the Carinthian FPÖ agrees. The nationwide ban would be welcomed by the FPÖ, said party chairman Christian Leyroutz: "Carinthia could become the first federal state that is 100 percent glyphosate-free - that would be exemplary."
"The proposal now has to be implemented swiftly and before the state elections in March," said Sebastian Theissing-Matei, agricultural spokesman for Greenpeace in Austria.
In Tyrol, the ÖVP-Greens coalition agrees that the use of glyphosate should be abandoned, with the Greens pushing for a state government decree banning the chemical. Josef Geisler, who is responsible for agriculture in the state, says a ban would not be a problem in traditional agriculture, because the sector is already 95% glyphosate-free and the small dairies have voluntarily stopped using the chemical. However, in the cultivation of certain crops and in fruit growing, Geisler advocates transition periods to phase out glyphosate.
According to a story in EU Food Policy, the chair of the Monsanto Tribunal has said that the Spar supermarket chain in Austria will delist all foods containing glyphosate.
Glyphosate has been authorized in the EU since 2002. At the end of November, approval for the pesticide in the EU was extended by five years on the proposal of the EU Commission.
1. EU Food Policy, Four political groups plot glyphosate court case and Spar delists glyphosate in foods. 15 Dec 2017. Subscription only; no direct link.