In February 2016 EU Ombudsman ruled that the European Commission health service DG SANTE violated the precautionary principle by approving pesticides with serious data gaps and high risks. Data gaps observed by Food Authority EFSA and high risks should have made it impossible for DG SANTE to conclude that harmful effects to humans are absent as well as unacceptable effects to the environment. Still they did and most pesticides were approved with data gaps and high risks for the environment. Deciding on an approval while crucial data are missing (or while high risks are observed) is unlawful and contrary to the principles of good administration, according to the Ombudsman .
DG SANTE initially denied all claims made by the Pesticide Action Network and also the Ombudsman got frustrated with these denials, saying that "she could understand the complainant's impression that Commission's review reports and approval decisions are 'misleading' and inaccurate". Finally DG SANTE agreed with a 'fair solution' proposed by the Ombudsman to change practices and return to a use strictly according to the rules. Given the bad regulatory history of DG SANTE however, EU Ombudsman ordered DG SANTE to write a report within two years time to demonstrate that it actually changed practices.
Pesticide Action Network Europe now publishes a survey at mid-term, one year after the verdict. In the approval decisions analysed since February 2016, in 20 out of 22 cases (91%), DG SANTE kept on violating the rules on data gaps. Also on another element of the fair solution, including protective measures as defined by EFSA for the high risks observed, in 14 out of 14 cases (100%) the agreement with the Ombudsman was violated and no protective measures imposed.
The survey shows that DG SANTE again misleads the Ombudsman by hypothetically agreeing to the fair solution but in practice carrying on implementing its illegal practices of allowing pesticides on the market that are not shown to be safe or even show high risks for the environment (birds, bees, mammals, etc.).
Hans Muilerman of Pesticide Action Network adds: "Commission health service DG SANTE is not living up to their mission to protect the public and the environment. Pesticides currently allowed on the market are not safe and contribute to the widespread destruction of biodiversity in agricultural areas. Data gaps should not be allowed anymore and high risks for the environment shall be a reason for banning pesticides instead of granting them market access".
Contact: Hans Muilerman, Chemicals Coordinator, hans [at] pan-europe.info, +31 6 55 80 72 55