ANTHEA MCINTYRE, Conservative Party agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, has been appointed to a special committee on pesticides, where she will lead as coordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

The committee has been set up in response to other MEPs' campaign to ban the weedkiller glyphosate. Sitting for nine months, the new committee will examine the scientific evidence around the commonly-used product, which was eventually re-licensed for five years by the EU in December after months of uncertainty.

The committee will also consider wider issues around the authorisation of pesticides and how the EU applies scientific advice in weighing risk.

Miss McIntyre, who is Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, an area with a thriving horticulture sector, said: "My message will be that the science must come first, last and always in deciding the safety and effectiveness of pesticides.

"Scare stories and rogue studies must never lead the process. Instead we need to weigh the full body of scientific research and heed the advice of our own experts.

"The glyphosate controversy was a prime example of people putting scaremongering before science for reasons of political convenience," she said. "It nearly resulted in farmers losing their most effective weapon against plant pests, with zero gain for public health.

"A ban would have been bad for rural livelihoods, bad for food prices and bad for the environment – because alternatives methods to using glyphosate harm biodiversity," she claimed.