German officials disobeyed orders to abstain in a vote about renewing the licence of a controversial weedkiller linked to cancer, according to a Berlin minister. A World Health Organization study found it was "probably carcinogenic" but later studies have disagreed. "I declared clearly to colleague (Christian) Schmidt that I do not agree with an extension of the renewal of glyphosate", she said.
Divisions over its use meant that only an 18-month extension was agreed, which was due to expire in December.
Schmidt, whose Christian Social Union is the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, told the Rheinische Post that Germany had voted for the agreement because of conditions that will "strengthen the role of biodiversity and animal protection".
Environmental campaigners have criticised the outcome.
German chemical firm Bayer had been hoping for a 15-year extension rather than five, with Monsanto insisting that it met the required standards.
The decision marks a disappointment for the French government, which pushed unsuccessfully for only a three-year licence following widespread concern in the country over the chemical's health impact.
Banning glyphosate outright would have shaken Europe's agriculture sector, since it is so widely used. The European Commission and most governments have chosen to ignore the warnings of independent scientists, the demands of the European Parliament and the petition signed by more than one million people calling for a glyphosate ban.
Activists point to a 2015 study by the World Health Organisation's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer that concluded it was "probably carcinogenic".
The decision makes renewal more hard for the product, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has said causes cancer.
The European Commission will now issue a formal renewal of the licence for glyphosate in the EU.