EU Plant Protection Product legislation, one of the strictest in the world, is not working effectively, giving rise to duplication of effort by Members States, Mairead McGuinness MEP for Leitrim and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said.
In the European Parliament in Strasbourg today (Thursday) where a report on implementation of the legislation was debated the MEP said the mutual recognition system of pesticide products is not working as intended.
“Currently, member states can accept commercial products that have been approved in another member state with similar environmental conditions, but in practice this is not happening. Each member state is repeating the work and approval process due to a lack of trust between them,” she said.
“This doubling up on work is resulting in delays on approval of new agrichemicals and in re-approvals of existing agrichemicals and is unnecessary.”
Ms McGuinness said there is increased pressure to reduce the use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and to remove some products from the market, sometimes without full consideration and analysis of the consequences.
"If an agri-chemical is found to have a negative impact on human or animal health or on the environment then it must be taken off the market.
“Farmers and growers will then need replacement products or new management techniques to replace the banned substance. However, what is more likely to happen is that some crops will not be grown because the farmer no longer has access to the product.”
She said there are consequences for production in the absence of effective, efficient and safe plant protection products.
And there is a specific issue with importing food into the EU where agrichemicals that are banned in the EU are used in their cultivation.
Today the Parliament supported the MEP’s amendment pointing out this double standard.
"It is hypocritical to ban the use of plant protection products within the EU but then import food produced with substances that are illegal in the EU, from third countries. Today’s report on the approval process for placing products on the market asks for action to be taken in this regard.
"Fast tracking of products that are considered to be low-risk is also called for as is further innovation in this area," Ms McGuinness, a Member of both the Parliament’s Agriculture and Environment Committees, said.
The report also calls for increased transparency and user-friendly information to be available and easily accessible to all.
In recent years over 20 active substances have not been approved based on scientific tests, the MEP said.
There is a two pronged approach for a pesticide to be placed on the market. Firstly, the active chemical is approved at EU level and then member states approve the commercial product for sale.