Gaps in EU pesticide regulation
The European Union has one of the best regulations for pesticides in the world – in theory. But it is not implemented in practice. Many very toxic substances are still authorised and very few are banned. This results in unneccesary rik and harm to the health of European citizens and our environment.
In 2019 the PEST committee in the EU Parliament concluded after 9 months of investigations, hearings, missions and commissioning of studies that the current system of pesticides authorisation is failing to achieve its purpose. They highlighted the need for urgent change. The Committee report listed 116 recommendations calling for independence, objectivity, transparency and better use of science in the whole procedure. The report was endorsed by the European Parliament (European Parliament resolution, 2019).
In April 2023 former members of the PEST committee and experts discussed what happened since. PAN Europe made an analysis and found that to date:
• 15% of the PEST recommendations have been sufficiently implemented,
• 28% of the PEST recommendations have either been partly or insufficiently implemented, or the work is ongoing (and its outcome remains uncertain),
• 57% of the PEST recommendations have not been implemented or the implementation has not led to the requested improvement. In a few cases, the situation got worse.
We conclude that both health and environment are seriously at risk by the current pesticide use. Our roadmap describes 10 priorities that urgently need to be addressed to meet the level of safety
required by EU regulation. Read our analysis and roadmap 'Gaps in the EU pesticide authorisation' (April 2023).
Manifesto 'Rigorous science, safe food, and a healthy environment'
Already in 2018 a European coalition “Citizens for Science in Pesticide Regulation” published a manifesto for “rigorous science, safe food, and a healthy environment”. It was signed by 110 civil society organisations and institutions and by 25 experts. It called upon European regulators to urgently reform the current pesticide risk assessment and risk management system and suggests practical solutions to the major faiures in the system.
“If the EU pesticide regulation were properly implemented and risk assessment methods were overhauled to be scientifically rigorous and objective, a number of pesticides that were previously deemed safe would be shown to endanger human health and/or the environment and would have to be banned or restricted.”
The manifesto was first launched by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, ClientEarth, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Global 2000 (Austria), Generations Futures (France) and Justice Pesticides (France), with a scientific conference followed by a press conference.
The manifesto was presented at a crucial moment when the European Commission was reviewing pesticides legislation as part of its REFIT programme. The European Parliament published a series of reports and set up the PEST Committee to investigate the European Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides. The manifesto can be found here.