Stop the extension of the approval of toxic pesticides, starting with chlorpyrifos

Brussels 22-11-2018

Subject: Stop the extension of the approval of toxic pesticides, starting with chlorpyrifos

Dear Members of the ENVI Committee,

At your meeting of November 26th, you will exchange views with the Commission on ‘the Implementing Regulation regarding the extension of the approval periods of several active substances’, including chlorpyrifos the controversial organophosphate insecticides that affects brain development in infants and children[1]. Scientific evidence shows this substance lowers our children’s IQ and is linked to autism. According to the new decision, exposure to this toxic substance chlorpyrifos will now be prolonged until 2020.

The extension of the approval period for pesticide active substances, even when scientific evidence reveals they are toxic, is a standard procedure in the Member States Standing Committee of Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) of Directorate General of Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), that needs urgent revision that needs urgent revision to ensure protection of public health and the environment from hazardous chemicals.

In the latest implementing Regulation 2018/1796, the Commission attempts to justify the extension of the approval period because “the assessment of those substances has been delayed for reasons beyond the control of the applicants”. However, what the Commission does not mention is that this is the 3rd time that the approval period of chlorpyrifos is extended in the last 5 years.

The first extension was received in 2013 to prolong the approval expiration date from June 2016 to January 2018; then it was extended to 2019 and now to 2020. This will result in a 4 years extension of a pesticide that should had been banned under the Pesticide Regulation 1107/2009, which calls for substances that are neurotoxic or endocrine disruptors not to be authorised in Europe.  In addition, according to the EU law, the Commission may review the approval of an active substance any time ‘in the light of new scientific and technical knowledge and monitoring data’ (Article 21, Reg. EC 1107/2009). Thus, the authorisation of chlorpyrifos should be urgently withdrawn, not extended.

The applicant is not respecting the European Law and the Commission and Member States are giving their permission to do so at public health’s cost.   

The discussion in the parliament takes place few days after the release of a scientific publication[2] in the Journal of Environmental Health reporting that industry-funded regulatory studies, had drawn misleading conclusions on the neurodevelopmental toxicity of Chlorpyrifos. The authors examined the raw data of the industry-sponsored regulatory studies and found that the applicant, Dow Chemicals, should have reported neurodevelopmental toxicity, but failed to do so. This evidence of science manipulation was also reported for the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate, where the applicant, in this case Monsanto, missed to report 8 cases of the tumour incidents in experimental animals.

Such evidence of fraud does never lead to any kind of sanction in Europe. This is unacceptable and we ask you to highlight this misconduct to the Commission and demand the initiation of legal actions against the producers that commit such frauds. We invite you to read the letter of PAN Europe sent to Health Commissioner Andriukaitis this week on the issue.

Over 145,000 European citizens are calling to ban chlopyrifos due to its toxicity for our children’s health. A new European coalition of more than 120 European NGOs and institutions are calling EU regulators for a reform in the pesticide risk assessment, implement the EU law and protect citizens and the environment from the harm caused by pesticides.   

Other toxic substances that are prolonged in the same regulation are: mancozeb and chlorpyrifos methyl.

We call on you to demand to ban chlorpyrifos and to stop this repeated prolongation of toxic substances and the abuse of the system by the industry to keep its toxic products on the market as long as possible.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

With kind regards,

Angeliki Lysimachou

On the behalf of PAN Europe    



[1] Chlorpyrifos fact sheet: EU should ban brain-harming chlorpyrifos to protect health

[2] Mie A, Rudén C, Grandjean P (2018). Safety of Safety Evaluation of Pesticides: developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl. Environ Health 17:77


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