The licensing of pesticides continues to be used as a political football following the establishment today of a special European Parliament committee.

Sitting for nine months, committee members will examine the scientific evaluation of glyphosate, the world's most commonly used weed killer which was relicensed for five years by the EU in December after months of uncertainty. They will also consider wider issues around the authorisation of pesticides.

Conservative MEPs opposed the move, with leader Ashley Fox arguing that the new committee will simply duplicate work already underway and politicise what should be a science-based process.

He said: "It is regrettable that there are individuals in Parliament who remain determined to ignore the science and keep kicking this particular political football.

"We believe the EU already has a system for examining and licencing pesticides which is robust, consistent and fit for purpose. It places scientists front and centre, not politicians with an axe to grind or a campaign to advance.

"Establishing this unnecessary committee, while not changing December's decision on glyphosate, is only going to undermine the trust of our farmers and businesses." 

The special committee, comprising 30 MEPs, will produce a report and deliver its recommendations to Parliament.