The European Union will extend glyphosate's authorisation for 10 years, even though its member states failed to agree over the active ingredient in Bayer AG's Roundup weedkiller.
Glyphosate has proved divisive since the World Health Organization's cancer research agency concluded in 2015 that it was probably carcinogenic to humans. Other agencies around the world, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EU agencies, have classified it as non-carcinogenic.
The European Commission said on Thursday it would renew glyphosate's approval based on European Food Agency and European Chemicals Agency safety assessments and subject to new conditions and restrictions, such as maximum application rates.
Bayer welcomed the EU executive's decision, which was condemned by environmental groups including Greenpeace.
"This reauthorisation allows us to continue to provide important integrated weed management technology to farmers across the European Union," Bayer said in a statement.
The German company, which acquired Roundup through its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto in 2018, faces thousands of cancer lawsuits from plaintiffs across the United States.
Glyphosate has been widely used for decades by farmers and in other uses such as to clear weeds from railways lines.
The Commission had proposed extending authorisation by 10 years and sought approval from the EU's 27 member countries.
A more substantial "qualified majority" had been required either to support of block the proposal, but on Thursday and a month ago, the voting did not clear this hurdle.
Under EU rules, the Commission had to take a decision on authorisation which was due to expire on Dec. 15.
French pro-environmental farming group Confederation Paysanne called the decision and the approval process "scandalous". France was among a number of countries to abstain.
Greenpeace said it was outraged by the decision, which was contrary to numerous opinions of scientists on glyphosate's probable negative effects on human health and the environment.
Agriculture without glyphosate was possible, it said, and public policies should help farmers to phase it out. Farming group Copa and Cogeca said there was no equivalent alternative.
Individual EU countries will remain responsible for authorising plant protection products containing glyphosate.