An environmental scientist with Friends of the Earth has said the organisation is opposed to the licence renewal of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Cara Augustenborg said the weedkiller is damaging the ecosystem and is "not safe for nature".

She said that even though its parent company Monsanto says it is a non-persistent chemical and does not last in the environment, it is present in 45% of European soil.

Dr Augustenborg also said that the weedkiller is present in two-thirds of urine tested in German people, at levels five times above drinking water quality recommendations and 42 times that for children and adolescents.

"It kills nearly every plant it comes into contact with and as a result is killing all sorts of plants that insects, pollinators are very, very dependent on and it is damaging the ecosystem," she said.

The current glyphosate licence runs out on 15 December.

Last week, Ireland was one of 14 states which backed the European Commission's proposal to renew the licence for another five year period.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Irish Farmers Association's National Grain Committee said that there has been "no conclusive proof that there is any carcinogen involved with glyphosate."

Speaking on the same programme, Liam Dunne said that the weedkiller made a difference to world grain production.

He said: "Without it we would probably see an immediate drop of 30% in European production which would lead to huge volatility in grain markets throughout the whole world."

Mr Dunne said: "The European Chemical Agency and the organisation for European Food Safety (European Food Safety Authority) have both given it a clean bill of health."

He said that there was a problem with one formulation in the weedkiller, which was taken off the market after a very short space of time. Mr Dunne said that it was the additive that was put with the formulation that was the problem.

He said: "We're calling upon the leaders in Europe to stand up with science and say this is an important product and it needs to be on the market and it should remain so".