Austria’s ban on weedkiller glyphosate hits roadblock

December 9, 2019 GMT

BERLIN (AP) — An Austrian ban on the weedkiller glyphosate, a substance that has long been disputed in Europe and beyond, can’t take effect on Jan. 1 as supporters hoped, the government said Monday.

The country’s lawmakers voted in July to ban the herbicide, best known as an ingredient in Roundup. But interim Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein informed the parliament’s speaker Monday that she won’t promulgate the legislation because of a legal technicality.

Bierlein said that European Union regulations required the EU’s executive commission to be notified of the draft law, but that didn’t happen. She stressed that her decision not to put the law into effect stemmed only from legal issues and didn’t imply an opinion on the glyphosate ban itself.

It wasn’t immediately clear what will happen now with the plan to outlaw the substance.

At the time of the July vote, some lawmakers raised concerns that the ban would run afoul of EU law. The EU in late 2017 approved a five-year extension allowing the use of glyphosate in member countries.

The herbicide is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Monsanto parent Bayer is currently facing lawsuits in the United States over claims that Roundup causes cancer. Bayer argues that studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

Bierlein’s non-partisan interim administration took office after ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s coalition with the far-right Freedom Party collapsed in May.

Kurz’s center-right party, which opposed the glyphosate ban, emerged as the strongest by far in a September election. The party is in negotiations to form a new coalition government with the environmentalist Greens.