Japanese Knotweed: Weed Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they anticipate glyphosate to continue to be available for treating Japanese knotweed; and if not, what steps they are taking to ensure that effective alternatives are available.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Like all pesticides, glyphosate is subject to restrictions to ensure that its use will not harm people or have unacceptable effects on the environment. UK scientists participated in the European Food Safety Authority’s recent assessment of glyphosate and support its conclusions. The Government therefore agrees with the continuing approval of glyphosate. The European Commission decided in December 2017 to approve glyphosate for continuing use until December 2022.

When the approval of glyphosate is next reviewed, we will consider our position based on a careful scientific assessment of the evidence and risks at that time.

With regard to the second point, the Government is funding work by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International to trial biocontrol methods targeted at Japanese knotweed. A sap-sucking bug (psyllid) has been selected as a highly specific natural enemy to help control this invasive non-native species. The work is undergoing peer review and further regulatory scrutiny would be required before the psyllid could be released under strict licence conditions. The project team continues to work to establish the psyllid at a series of experimental sites. It is hoped that, in time, this method will prove effective in reducing the invasive capacity of Japanese knotweed as well as the effort and cost of managing it.

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