The EU Commission has not conducted an impact assessment into the effect of its new pesticide proposals on farmers and food supply because it does not know which pesticides will be affected.

The admission comes in an answer to a written question to the EU Commission by East Midlands MEP Bill Newton Dunn.

Under the new legislation, certain pesticides will be banned because they contain active ingredients that are deemed hazardous. This replaces the current system where pesticides are judged on the basis of the risk they present to farmers, consumers and the environment.

In his question, Mr Newton Dunn asked what assessments had been made, “in particular the impact on food production and the economic impact on farmers and growers”.

But in its response the commission said it did not conduct such an assessment, “because at the time of its original proposal, it was not possible to anticipate which substances would remain on the market at the end of the review”.

The commission goes on to suggest that the regulation “might lead to the withdrawal of a limited number of active substances”. But it dismisses the UK Pesticides Safety Directorate impact assessment, which said up to 85% of current pesticides are under threat, as “unrealistic”.

A commission source told Farmers Weekly that it was still unclear exactly which products would be lost, as one of the hazard criteria – endocrine disrupting – had yet to be properly defined. Also, a review of existing authorisations was still ongoing.

A spokesman for the European Crop Protection Association said that the whole point of having an impact assessment was to find out what the effects of the EU Commission’s proposal would be. Using the fact it did not know what the effects would be as an excuse for not having an impact assessment was counter-intuitive.

See: Save our Sprays