If Paris and Rome carry through with their plans to ban glyphosate, a small group of French, Italian and Belgian chemical companies are poised to reap the benefits.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s promise to outlaw glyphosate in France as soon as “alternatives are found” wasn’t fueled by blind faith. After all, he and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni can’t risk infuriating powerful agricultural constituencies that see weedkillers as vital for growing everything from barley to carrots.
In fact, both France and Italy have a Plan B: a more natural product that threatens to oust Monsanto’s ubiquitous glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup from its dominant position in European agriculture.
Government officials and executives from chemical companies said a Belgian-French-Italian collaboration in the works since 2015 aims to dethrone the Missouri-based agrochemical giant.
The intense, drawn-out political debate over whether glyphosate is harmful to people and the environment has largely obscured behind-the-scenes maneuvering by chemical companies vying for a foothold in the multi-billion euro pesticide business.
Europe’s alternative to glyphosate is based on pelargonic acid, a naturally occurring chemical found in a host of plants, thistles in particular.
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