Newsletter 14

January - February 2003

1. PAN Europe activities 2002

Pesticide Use Reduction in Europe (PURE) campaign

In May 2002 published its Suggested text for a Directive on pesticides use reduction in Europe (PURE), which lays down measures aiming to contribute to a high level of protection of human health and the environment via the reduction of dependency on, and elimination, where feasible, of the use of pesticides. The suggested text was accompanied in November 2002 by an Explanatory Memorandum which provides a detailed justification for the proposal, looking at the present situation and impacts on health and environment, current EU actions to reduce impacts, Member State experiences with use reduction programmes and detailed explanation of the measures we propose. We invited feedback on the draft PURE Directive from the Commission, Council and Parliament and from other stakeholders.

As of February 2003, 71 organisations in 22 European countries have signed up to support the PURE campaign, including environmental, public health, consumer and farmer organisations.

The suggested text and Explanatory Memorandum can be accessed on the PAN Europe website and an up to date list of co-signatories obtained from the PAN Europe Coordinator in London.

Lobbying and participation in European Commission pesticide policy

The EC finally published its Communication Towards a Thematic Strategy for Sustainable Use of Pesticides in July 2002 (available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ppps/home.htm) PAN-E broadly welcomes the initiative but believe it falls short of introducing strong and immediate European action. Together with the European Environmental Bureau, we provided point-by-point comments in September on the different elements in the strategy. These comments can be found under PAN Europe Policy Papers on our website and were published on the Commission’s DG Environment website under Plant Protection Products.

Prior to the Commission’s Stakeholder Conference to discuss the Thematic Strategy on 4 November, we produced a joint stakeholders’ declaration (also on our website) with EEB and 12 other European organisations, outlining the measures we believe are necessary for a European pesticides strategy and demanding binding legislation to reduce pesticide application frequency by 25% in 5 years and by 50% in 10 years and a ban on pesticides which are bioaccumulating, carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic or endocrine disrupting.

At the Conference, PAN Europe Board members Catherine Wattiez and Hans Muilerman made presentations on PURE and on Integrated Crop Management as the minimum requirement for crop growing. PURE Working Group members Gretta Goldenman of Milieu Ltd and Stefan Scheuer from EEB made presentations on the case for mandatory use reduction and conditions for effective EU-wide risk reduction, while PURE co-signatory organisations European Public Health Association and European Farmers’ Coordination presented their views of reducing pesticide use. These presentations can be found in the Commission’s report of the conference at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ppps/home.htm

Since then, PAN-E has been involved in lobbying rapporteurs and MEPs to support the very positive report by Kathleen Van Brempt of the Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy on the Commission Communication Towards a Thematic Strategy for Sustainable Use of Pesticides. The Van Brempt report PE319.402 is here.

PAN-E and EEB successfully lobbied Environment Committee MEPs in January and February with our voting recommendations on the amendments to this report and the report was adopted by a large majority, with a united front from Socialists, Greens and Liberals. Concern about pesticides is a very hot issue, at least within the Parliament Environment Committee, and bodes well for strong Parliament support for a much more progressive approach to pesticide policy than is currently emerging from the Commission.

Pesticide authorisations and risk assessment
PAN-E participated in another Commission stakeholder meeting in July on the review of the EU pesticides authorisation directive 91/414, pushing for more stringent cut-off point criteria for pesticide evaluation and for greater public participation in pesticide regulation decision-making. We are also following and commenting on the passage of specific active ingredients of concern, through the decision-making process for inclusion or exclusion in the directive’s Annex I of pesticides approved at EU level, via Board Member Hans Muilerman. These include the insecticides endosulfan, dichlorvos, chlorpyrifos; the insecticide/nematicide aldicarb; the nematicides methyl bromide, metam-sodium and Cis-1,3-dichloropropene, the herbicides atrazine, paraquat, bentazone, glyphosate and the fungicides mancozeb/maneb and chlorothalonil. This work also includes the “essential uses” decided in relation to pest/crop combinations for which there will be no other registered pesticide alternatives following the revokal of 320 active ingredients from the EU market from July 2003 [see EU pesticides clear out, Pesticide News 57 p 8] and those registered for minor crops.

Comparative Risk Assessment
PAN-E members took part in the Pesticides Challenge: promoting safer pest management conference organised by PAN UK in London in November 2002 to explore options for comparative risk assessment of pesticides. This important conference brought together 100 delegates including regulators, food importers and retailers, NGOs and researchers from Europe to discuss the limitations of current regulatory systems and how to move towards a system which phases in safer alternatives to hazardous pesticides. Summaries of the presentations are found in Pesticides News 58 and the conference proceedings will be available from PAN UK in March 2003.

Stop Paraquat Campaign

PAN-E signed up to support the Stop Paraquat campaign, coordinated by the Berne Declaration NGO in Switzerland, with lobby action on the company Syngenta to stop the manufacture and sale of this acutely toxic herbicide, one of the original Dirty Dozen pesticides. As a result of high profile media work by the campaign in Switzerland, the Swiss government announced in December 2002 its decision to support efforts to add paraquat to Annex III of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Rotterdam Convention to protect developing countries from the harmful consequences of this highly toxic pesticide, banned in Switzerland since 1990. With EEB, PAN-E joined lobby efforts by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation to urge member state representatives on the EC Standing Committee on Food Safety & Animal Health to decide against its inclusion in Annex I of the EU pesticides directive, when this comes up for discussion in February 2002.
For more information on the campaign globally, see www.evb.ch/stopparaquat_en.htm

Public Participation in Pesticide Policy
PAN-E conducted a study, led by Ute Meyer, on NGO and Public Participation in Pesticide Policy Processes. The study looks at current experience in effective participation in chemical and pesticides risk assessment with a focus on the EU pesticides authorisation directive 91/414 and issues of transparency, access to information and the balance of stakeholder involvement. The study will conclude with an NGO workshop on 17-18 March 2003 to discuss the findings and develop recommendations for the most effective options for future participation and lobbying around pesticide policy and evaluation.

News and Information

EU revokal of active ingredients from July 2003

The full list of active ingredients to be revoked and “essential uses” for 49 of these can be found at
http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2002/l_319/l_31920021123en00030011.pdf or via EuroLex http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/search/search_lif.html and search for Regulation 2076/2002.

MS must cancel registration of products containing these actives by July and usage must end by 31 Dec. 2003.

Non-transparent and undemocratic: PAN Germany’s suggestions for a Codex Alimentarius Commission reform
A new position paper from PAN Germany comments on the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) and makes suggestions for a reform of this little known but influential international commission for food standards. PAN Germany participated as a member of the German CAC delegation in the meetings of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues from 1997 to 2000. Conclusions drawn from its own experiences with CAC are now presented in a brochure titled “Towards pesticide-free food: PAN Germany’s suggestions for a Codex Alimentarius Commission reform“ with an evaluation on the CAC process. Main criticisms identified by PAN Germany are:

  • Biased and non-transparent decision-making process
    CAC follows a biased, unbalanced and non-transparent decision-making process. Non-profit NGOs are hardly involved in the decision-making, the interested general public not at all. Developing countries are under-represented in Codex meetings because they lack financial resources and scientific expertise for participation.
  • Free trade outcompetes consumer protection
    The CAC does not acknowledge governments that want to protect their consumers’ health with voluntary higher standards. In general, the Precautionary Principle is not considered in its decision-making.
  • Pesticide Residues: agricultural reality instead of consumer safety
    Maximum residue limits are calculated in a way that reflects actual agricultural realities rather than prioritising consumer protection.
  • PAN Germany suggestions for CAC reform
    Codex is the most important international organisation for establishing food quality. There is an urgent need that CAC ensures that its standards protect consumer health and that all stakeholders, including developing countries and public interest groups, can participate equally in its decision-making processes. With regards to its pesticides policies, the CAC must implement a more holistic and sustainable approach that recognises pesticide-free food as an ultimate goal. PAN Germany proposes several concrete measures for CAC reform to make sure these objectives are met.
  • Towards pesticide-free food
    PAN Germany’s suggestions for a Codex Alimentarius reform can be ordered for 4 € plus mailing expenses from PAN Germany. It also can be downloaded as PDF-file from PAN Germany homepage at www.pan-germany.org/download.htm

30% pesticide use reduction possible in Germany
On 20 January, PAN Germany conducted at the International Green Week in Berlin a panel discussion on “cornerstones for a strategy towards the minimisation of pesticide use”. The title cited a part of the German government’s coalition agreement between the Social-Democrats and the Greens. Panellists represented different stakeholders from government (Matthias Berninger, State Secretary at the German Ministry for Consumer Protection, Agriculture and Nutrition), authorities (Prof. Dr. Andreas Troge, president of the German Environmental Protection Agency), the scientific community (Prof. Dr. Hermann Waibel, University of Hannover), agriculture (Dr. Harald Isermeyer, farmer and member of the board of directors of the German Agricultural Society) and food trade (Georg Sedlmaier, member of the board of directors of Tegut, a German retailer). PAN Germany was represented by Dr. Rolf Altenburger from the executive board.Carina Weber, PAN Germany executive director, opened the session with a presentation of essential tools of such a pesticide use reduction strategy: aims and time frames, indicators, instruments and transparency. Mr. Berninger declared that, bearing in mind the results of German and European food quality control, consumer protection and agricultural policy now needed to respond to the problem of pesticide residues in food products.

Panellists all agreed that a reduction of 30% within the conventional agricultural system is perfectly feasible using existing knowledge and methods. Regarding use efficiency, even a reduction of 50% would be possible. No consensus was reached regarding the timeframe for such a pesticide reduction. PAN Germany urges for setting this within the current legislative period but the German Ministry of Consumer Protection, Agriculture and Nutrition is reluctant to commit itself to a quantitative objective or a timeframe since the discussion process within the Ministry has only just started.

Pesticide use increasing or decreasing in Europe?

Latest European Crop Protection Association figures show a 5.3% decrease in sales value (of formulated products) between 2000 and 2001, when the agrochemical market amounted to €5,735 million. This represents a real decline of 6.9% after excluding currency and inflationary factors. ECPA relates this decrease to low crop prices, adverse weather and the effect of 91/414 review and re-registration on sales of older products. Real term declines in 2000 and 1999 were 5.75 and 2.1%, respectively. In contrast, they report steady growth in the market in Central and Eastern European countries, attributed to EU aid and high disease pressure in 2001.
European agchem market declines, AGROW 416, Jan. 17th 2003

Eurostat latest figures (New Cronos, 2002) show an increase in active ingredient sold in the EU from just under 322,000 tonnes to almost 327,000 between 1998 and 1999. Among Member States, by far the largest volume used was in France
(114,695), followed by Italy (50,850), UK (35,668), Germany (35,403) and Spain (33, 614).

In Finland, volume of active ingredients sold increased by 272 tonnes in 2001, compared with the previous year, mainly due to increased sales of glyphosate and MCPA herbicides. Tonnage of formulated products sold increased by over 16%, to 3,680t. Sales amounted to €5,735 million, up €5 million from 2000. Interestingly, biological pesticides usage (included in the total pesticides figures) almost doubled in this period, rising from 7 to 16 t. Two bacterial and three fungal-based biopesticides are used in Finland, including products for forestry pest and disease control.
M-L Savela, E-L Hynninen and H Blomqvist, Kemia-Kemi 29 (2002) 6: 61-63.

To understand trends in pesticide use, we need much improved and speedier pesticide use reporting at national and EU levels, based on actual application and not just on sales figures. PAN-E is calling for pesticide use reporting as part of the PURE directive.

“Essential Uses” for pesticides excluded from Annex I and possible alternatives

EC DGSanco’s workshop on Essential Uses took place 5-6 November in Denmark, to share knowledge among member states on the 49 active ingredients excluded from Annex I of the EU pesticide authorisation directive 91/414 but for which “essential use” derogation was granted last year. MS will now be able to maintain authorisations for products containing these active ingredients until July 2007. The workshop aimed to ensure that individual MS search for existing alternatives, chemical and non-chemical, used in other countries and to collaborate to find new alternatives, with a focus on non-chemical methods. MS will be asked to give a preliminary report on progress in Dec. 2003. The list of essential uses includes 21 herbicides, 8 fungicides, 11 insecticides, 5 acaricides, 4 growth regulators and 1 nematicide. Some of the essential uses have been notified for one particular country and crop problem only, for example, bromacil herbicide for use on lavender in France. Others concern several countries and crops. The insecticide chlorfenvinphos has the most essential use derogations- in six countries on 19 different vegetables. The workshop report SANCO/10592/2002 with the list of essential uses and alternatives as discussed by the participants is not yet available on DGSanco website Food Safety: from farm to fork.

French water quality remains below par

Some 90% of surface waters and 58% of ground waters contain "significant" amounts of pesticides, the French environment institute (Ifen) warned recently. In its latest study based on sampling at 3,000 sites in 2000, Ifen found that just 56% of sampled abstraction points for surface drinking water required no treatment at all to remove pesticides, while pesticide limits permitted in drinking water were exceeded at 24 points. The most common pesticides were triazine herbicides, which have now been banned by the agriculture ministry. In river and groundwater samples, pesticides were found in high enough concentrations "to cause disturbance to aquatic environments and to exceed permissible thresholds for the production of drinking water".
Environment Daily 1389, 20/02/03

Belgium bans 40 pesticides
As part of their national review of actives and their impact on aquatic life, the Belgian government decided in November to ban 40 active ingredients, for which companies gave failed to supply additional safety data. These include 20 fungicide products (including captan, carbendazim and chlorothalonil of PAN-E concern), 13 herbicides and 7 acaricides.insecticides (including diazinon and endosulfan and malathion). These active ingredients are not on the EU list for revokal in July 2003. Sale of stocks will be allowed until July 2003 and suage until July 2004. A further active, the OP insecticide methidathion, is to be withdrawn by 20 March 2003.
AGROW 412, Nov.8th 2002, and 410, Oct.11th 2002

EU Accession Countries gear up to adopting EU pesticide directives

The Czech Republic adopted a new Phytosanitary Care Act in October 2002 to align its pesticide maximum residue levels and pesticide registration with EU rules. Lithuania’s Plant Protection Service has increased its staff numbers to deal with pesticide registration data assessment. Romania’s Ministry of Agriculture has set up a national residue monitoring scheme, currently only sampling imported fruit and vegetables, but has no system in place yet to trace non-compliant products and enforcement will be difficult without more human and financial resources.
AGROW 412 Nov. 8th 2002.

Isoproturon herbicide still exceeds water limits in UK

Following criticisms by EUREAU , the European water industry association, in 2001 that residue levels of the phenylurea herbicide IPU in UK water sources were among the highest in Europe, UK companies manufacturing IPU products issued new guidelines on how to avoid water course contamination. This guidance forms part of the agrochemical industry Voluntary Initiative measures to reduce environmental impacts as an alternative to a pesticides tax. Companies are now advising farmers on factors such as weed resistance and growth stage, field drainage and rainfall forecasts, which were not included in their 2001 IPU stewardship scheme. IPU continues to be detected at levels above the EU drinking water limit of 0.1µg per litre in some areas.
AGROW 410, Oct. 11th 2002.

Benomyl excluded from Annex I

DuPont manufacturers of the fungicide benomyl, a possible human carcinogen and potential endocrine disruptor, decided not to support its reregistration under 91/414 review. The EC have MS 6 months from 26 Nov. 2002 to withdraw approvals for products containing benomyl.
AGROW 414, Dec. 13th 2002.

Agrochemical company mergers continue and products change hands

As a result of anti-trust regulations to prevent monopoly sales under company mergers, several hugely expanded companies have been obliged to sell off some of their product range. When Bayer acquired Aventis Crop Science in April 2002, it was forced by the US Federal Trade Commission to sell the former Aventis cotton defoliant tribufos to Amvac Chemicals . Bayer decided to dispose of its household insecticide business to the US consumer products company SC Johnson. Cheminova of Denmark took over European rights to Bayer’s insecticide.acaricides acrinathrin and phosalone, while Makteshim-Agan Industries acquired several Bayer products, including its European azinphos-methl insecticide business, endosulfan for Greece and Portugal markets and global rights to the herbicides metamitron (for sugarbeet) and linuron.
Companies gain from merger fall-out, A Beer, Agrow Review of 2002 pp 2-10.

EU approval of new chemical and biological agents speeds up (slightly)
The EC added 10 new pesticide active ingredients to Annex 1 of 91/414 in 2002, compared with 7 pesticides and one biopesticide in 2001. Agrow notes that since 1994, there have been 89 applications for new pesticide active ingredient approval and ten for biopesticides. 30% of the chemicals submitted eventually gained approval but only 10% of the biopesticides. Two more biopesticides, a bacterial agent for disease control and a viral agent for Spodoptera caterpillar control are under provisional approval. Ten new chemical and one biological product were submitted for approval in 2002. A biofungicide for wheat has been granted approval in France and another for ornamentals and cucurbits completed its EU dossier.

EC bans arsenic in wood treatments

The Commission has adopted a new Directive banning arsenic in wood treatments in consumer applications, to protect consumer health and the environment. One derogation was made for a specific wood preservative formulation for certain industrial and professional use where there are concerns over the structural integrity and where the risk can be properly managed, e.g. in bridges. The ban on consumer products containing arsenic will come into force by end Jun. 2004.

STOP PRESS

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation report that on 26 Feb. 2003 the EC withdrew its proposal to include paraquat in Annex 1 of the Directive 91/414/EEC and postponed the voting till the next meeting in April. The Commission noted that there would be no qualified majority for their proposal on inclusion. This is positive news for those calling for an EU-wide paraquat ban.

The PAN Europe Newsletter is produced by Stephanie Williamson, PAN-E Coordinator, Contributions are welcome from PAN Europe network members.

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PAN Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, Life+ programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.