The European Parliament has approved new European Union pesticides legislation introducing new regulations on the production and licensing of plant production products and introducing new rules on their use.
The package - subject of much claim, counter-claim and discussion - comprises two distinct parts. That dealing with the production and licensing of pesticides will see some ‘active substances’ (the chemical ingredients of pesticides) banned. In particular, says the European Parliament, the legislation seeks to outlaw highly toxic chemicals, such as those that cause cancer.
The second part, the directive on the sustainable use of pesticides, emphasises the importance of integrated pest management (IPM), which will have to be encouraged by Member States as an alternative to the use of pesticides. In addition some practices, such as aerial spraying and the use of pesticides in public areas, will either be banned or substantially reduced.
Banning toxic chemicals
The key points of the regulation dealing with the production and licensing of pesticides are:
The European Parliament says both manufacturers and pesticide users will benefit because Member States will be able to license pesticide products at national level or through mutual recognition. The EU will be divided into three zones (north, centre and south*) with compulsory mutual recognition within each zone as the basic rule. This, it says, will make it easier for manufacturers to gain approval for their products across borders within a given zone and thus make more pesticides available to users more quickly. However, following pressure from MEPs, individual States will be allowed to ban a product, for example because of specific environmental or agricultural circumstances.
Parliament adds that the new legislation will only gradually supersede existing EU law. Pesticides which can be placed on the market under current legislation will remain available until their existing authorisation expires. Thus, it says, there will be no sudden large-scale withdrawal of products from the market, pointing to a Swedish Chemicals Agency study that estimates only around 22 dangerous substances are likely to be removed from the market.
Hiltrud Breyer (Greens), the MEP who steered the legislation through Parliament, said: “This agreement is a win-win situation, not only for the environment, public health and consumer protection, but also for the European economy, since it will lead to more innovation, placing the EU at the forefront of this sector.”
However, many individuals and organisations have expressed great concern over the lack of any scientific assessment of whether these legislative changes will benefit human health, and of their impact on the sustainability and competitiveness of EU agriculture (see links below).
Reducing pesticide use and managing it better
The key points of the directive on the sustainable use of pesticides (to be implemented by Member States by early 2011) are:
* The zones are:
North: Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Sweden.
Centre: Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and United Kingdom.
South: Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal.
For more information and reaction, follow the links below:
News from the European Parliament: click here.
To read the texts adopted at the Parliamentary session: click here.
News from EurActiv.com: click here.
Reaction from the European Crop Protection Association: click here.
Coverage on pesticideinformation.eu: click here.
Reaction from the UK (BBC News): click here.
Reaction in Europe (BBC News): click here.
To download ENDURE's stance on the pesticide legislation, click below: