European pesticide manufacturers are calling on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to conduct a comprehensive impact assessment of the new rules for authorising pesticides currently being considered in Brussels.

The request was made by the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) in a letter to EU food safety commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

“In order to make an informed decision on what amounts to the re-engineering of European agriculture, at the very least legislators require an independent evaluation of the changes proposed,” said ECPA director general Friedhelm Schmider.

To date, the view of EFSA has not been requested in assessing the impact of the new cut-off criteria. “This is a clear oversight, given that a key role of EFSA is to provide scientific advice and technical support for the Community’s legislation on issues which have an impact on food safety,” said Mr Schmider.

The letter to the EU Commission has been prompted in part by a new report commissioned by the European parliament’s environment committee into the possible benefits of cut-off criteria for human health.

While this study admits that “only a few studies have been able to link specific chemicals with specific health impacts”, it says there is still a need for “a preventative approach that focuses on reducing human exposure to certain pesticides to a minimum”.

It therefore supports the European parliament’s view that additional cut-off criteria should be built in to the regulation, banning active ingredients with neurotoxic or immunotoxic properties.

But the report has been strongly criticised by ECPA, which described it as “narrowly focused and highly flawed”.

“It is based on a limited selection of available literature, and appears to have reached conclusions without considering all the relevant issues,” said Mr Schmider.