Twisting and bending the rules - How Member States and Health DG SANCO change the rules to open the gates for banned pesticides

Brussels

EU Member States and Health DG SANCO allow data gaps on a massive scale in the approval process of pesticides. This is what PAN-Europe learned analysing one of the major derogation systems of regulators called ‘Resubmission’ [1].  In a sample taken from the Resubmission-pesticides in 10 out of 10 cases of approved chemicals studied, it turned out risk assessment for the environment was not possible due to  a lack of data. In 8 out of 10 cases consumer risk assessment was not finalised due to a lack of data. For the pesticide Bromuconazole even 5 data gaps were considered acceptable. These decisions expose people and the environment to unknown risks. Data gaps are not allowed at all by pesticide Directive 91/414; all required toxicity studies need to be performed.

Resubmission is a new invention developed behind the curtains of the Standing Committee of national representatives and Commission in 2007 and  grants pesticide industry a second chance in case their chemicals are banned or withdrawn. On top of this they are granted years of free market access during the process of evaluation in exchange for a “voluntary withdrawal” of their chemical. The threat of massive amounts of court cases from chemical industry and the political desire to “finalise” the much-delayed evaluation of pesticides most likely caused this strange ‘deal’ with industry. Industry could not resist such an advantageous offer and in the end applications for 87 different active substances were done, completely paralysing the evaluation system of SANCO and Food Authority EFSA now for more than 3 years.

The ‘friendly’ evaluation of this group of pesticides not only allowed approvals with data gaps, PAN-Europe’s new study “Twisting and bending the rules” also revealed that MS and Commission will never ban a pesticide solely because of environmental risks. In 10 out of 10 cases studied the condition of not having unacceptable effects on the environment was not met; in 7 of 10 cases even high risks for the environment were considered acceptable for an approval.  This is a grave violation of the rules and a systematic undermining of the central criterion for pesticide approval: no unacceptable influence on the environment.

While presenting industry such an enormous present, the necessary work on the renewal of the pesticide system –as required by the new Regulation 1007/2009- is halted and no work is done on the reconstruction of the outdated and insensitive toxicity test requirements, no work on renewing the old risk assessment methodologies and no work on substitution of pesticides.

Hans Muilerman of PAN-Europe states: “It is unacceptable Member States and SANCO are wasting their time on these pesticides only because of fears being bullied by industry. Regulators neglected their mission to protect people health and the environment and gave priority to putting more pesticides on the market, up from  250 to over 350 now. A reform of risk assessment and a return to a respect for the rules is urgently needed”.

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Notes for journalists

1. PAN Europe report - Twisting and bending the rules - In ‘Resubmission’ all efforts are aimed to get pesticides approved

published in April 2012

Further information

For further information please contact:

Hans Muilerman, Pesticide Action Network Europe, Tel: +316 558 072 55, E-mail: hans [at] pan-europe.info

© PAN Europe, Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

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.