The controversial herbicide glyphosate which is used by Monsanto in its Roundup products has been given a reprieve. It has been the subject of a battle between agrochemical and farming interests and environmentalists. However, the EU has given it a five year licence after Germany changed its position.
German environment minister the SDP's Barbara Hendricks has been against renewal of the licence while Christian Schmidt, the conservative agriculture minister has been in favour. Schmidt decided to change the vote from abstain to in favour, Hendricks accusing him of acting behind her back.
Up to now the Christian Democrats have been constrained by their 'Jamaica' coalition negotiations with the Greens, who are against the herbicide, but these have now broken down.
After Germany changed its vote, and following some tweaking to the wording of the licence, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland followed suit and switched their vote from abstain, allowing the EU committee for plants, animals, feed and food to give its approval for another five years by qualified majority vote.
Despite their apparent victory, farming organisations are concerned that renewal was only for five years rather than the 15 years they think was justified.