Industry disappointed as MEPs pass tough pesticide regime

The European Parliament approved a new pesticides regime on Tuesday, frustrating UK farmers and growers who say the new rules will remove a substantial proportion of pesticide products from the market

MEPs and the Council of Ministers reached agreement on a package of measures on pesticides in December. It included a Regulation tightening pesticide authorisation rules and a framework Directive on sustainable pesticide use. However, the deal still needed to be rubber stamped by the parliament.

Pesticide manufacturers, farmers and growers lobbied to make the adoption subject to a Europe-wide impact assessment because of fears over the number of active ingredients likely to be withdrawn from the market. The Horticultural Trades Association claimed that 85% of the 286 active substances used in pesticides in the UK could be lost, but the government's Pesticides Safety Directorate assessment was that 14-23% of products would be removed from sale.

Despite industry pressure, MEPs passed the package in a plenary session on Tuesday morning. The legislation now needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers but this is likely to be a formality. The measures will then be published in the Official Journal and be implemented by member states in 2010.

Director General of the European Crop Protection Association Friedhelm Schmider pledged to work to implement the measures: “We intend to help make sure that the path that is followed is based on fact, not fear. We hope that we are now leaving behind a period of sensational claims and that the approach to the application of this legislation will be one of great care and due diligence.”

The Regulation tightening pesticide approval procedures will establish an EU positive list of active substances to be used by member states. Substances which are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction; which disrupt endocrine systems or are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) will be banned unless human exposure is negligible.

The framework Directive on sustainable pesticide use will require member states to adopt action plans for reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use and set reduction targets, ban aerial crop spraying and spraying close to residential areas, require no-spray zones around water sources and require pesticide use to be banned or minimised in public parks and gardens.

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