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French and German farmers urge renewal of EU glyphosate licence

* EU to decide on widely-used weedkiller's licence by
year-end

* France has said it would oppose it on doubts about safety

* Farmers say a ban would be costly at a time of poor income

PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) - French and German farmers jointly
called on European governments to renew the licence for
glyphosate weedkiller, saying there was no evidence it was toxic
and banning it would severely harm farming.

The European Union is due to decide by the end of the year
whether to extend the licensing of one of the world's most
widely-used weedkillers. Glyphosate was initially created by
U.S. agricultural company Monsanto which sells it under
the brand name Roundup. A vote is planned early next month.

Consumers are concerned about potential health risks after
the World Health Organization's (WHO) cancer agency, the
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified
glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic" in 2015.

"We need to be able to continue to use some crop protection
products, not because of some kind of stupid addiction like some
say, but because the alternative means are not there," French
oilseed growers group FOP Arnaud Rousseau said on Thursday.

France's environment ministry said in August Paris would
vote against renewing the licence. A qualified majority of
member states is needed for the renewal to go ahead.

Berlin's stance will depend on the outcome of the Federal
elections due to take place on Sept. 24. Chancellor Angela
Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term, has backed glyphosate but
has not found enough support in her coalition government.

"We strongly hope that with the new government there will be
a new approval of glyphosate," said Wolfgang Vogel, head of
German oilseeds industry association UFOP. "It would be very
hard for farmers if they had to renounce glyphosate."

France and Germany, the two largest EU members and top grain
producers, had both abstained in earlier votes.

The question of glyphosate in France was now "purely
political" Vogel said, as public studies both at French and EU
level have said that glyphosate should not be classified as a
cancer-causing substance, he said.

Grain growers issued a separate statement saying France's
position was "purely unacceptable" at a time when farmers are
suffering from a sharp drop in income due to poor grain prices.

French pollster Ipsos, estimated earlier this month that a
ban on the weedkiller would cost the French grains sector 1.1
billion euros ($1.3 billion) and 900 million for wine makers.

Analysts have estimated that Monsanto could lose out on up
to $100 million of sales if glyphosate was banned in Europe.
($1 = 0.8412 euros)
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Elaine
Hardcastle)

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