Glyphosate has been given a new five-year lease in Europe.

An EU appeal committee voted to reauthorise the weed killer three weeks before the license expired.

Reaction has been divided.

The NFU has welcomed the news but says that legislation has not gone far enough.

Guy Smith, NFU vice president, said: “Today’s decision will be welcomed by farmers who have watched with growing concern as what should have been a straightforward decision has become increasingly political. The NFU has repeatedly said that decisions like this must be based on science and evidence. This clearly hasn’t happened in this case.

“Independent regulatory bodies around the world, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), have looked at all the scientific evidence and concluded glyphosate is safe to use. But their conclusions have been ignored and their credibility has been undermined.

“Glyphosate reduces the need to use other herbicides, it helps to protect soil and cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing, and it enables farmers in this country to grow crops that help produce safe, affordable, high quality British food.”

In the opposite camp, the Soil Association said the evidence is mounting to show that the weedkiller is not safe.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said: “The weight of scientific evidence suggesting glyphosate is not safe, including evidence from internal Monsanto papers, is increasing all the time. The chronic uncertainty that has so delayed a decision by the EU should not stop Michael Gove doing things that everyone agrees on, namely banning the spraying of glyphosate on crops immediately pre-harvest and banning glyphosate use in public places like parks, streets and playgrounds, in line with the European Parliament’s and the Commission’s advice.”

Green organisations were blamed for ignoring scientific facts said MEP Julie Girling. The MEP for the south west and Gibraltar said: "This represents the triumph of common sense in the face of a relentless campaign from some green groups determined to ignore scientific evidence and worry the public unnecessarily."

As well as the ECHA and the EFSA, the Joint UN/World Health Organisation Meeting on Pesticide Residues backs its continued use. This analysis is supported by national authorities in non-EU countries including Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

However Green MEP Molly Scott Cato said called the decision an example of corporate lobbyists' influence. She said: “This is a toxic decision. A majority of EU nations, including the UK are ignoring huge opposition from civil society; the almost one and a half million EU citizens who have signed a petition against glyphosate and the European Parliament who recently voted for a five-year phase out.

“This again confirms the profound influence agrichemical corporates have over our public institutions and policymakers. Governments have cracked under the intimidating pressure of Monsanto and others.

“It is time to weed out the poison from the Commission and its Agencies and root out corporate lobbyists who are having such a huge influence on EU governments. They are working against the interests of public health and environmental protection.”