RASE and BCPC take pesticide complaint to EU Ombudsman

Food industry representatives have lodged an official complaint with the EU Ombudsman in Strasbourg over the EU Commission’s handling of proposed new rules on pesticide approvals.

Acting on behalf of the Food Chain Group (see below), the British Crop Production Council (BCPC) and the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) have accused the commission of abusing its power.

In particular, they say it has failed to provide a comprehensive impact assessment into the effects of new cut-off criteria to be used when deciding whether to authorise a pesticide or not.

The organisations, as well as the UK government, are concerned what it will mean for the agricultural economy, food prices and food security.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown entered the debate last week, confirming that the “UK did not support this regulation earlier this year precisely because of the lack of a proper impact assessment”.

A recent study by the Pesticides Safety Directorate has show that between 14% and 23% of current pesticides will be banned, depending on the outcome of negotiations in Brussels that are still ongoing.

And a new agronomic report shows this will lead to yield losses of up to 20% in cereals, with even more dramatic effects on potatoes and horticultural crops.

Commenting on the complaint, Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, said: “Despite continued calls from national governments and food chain stakeholders across Europe, the EU Commission has refused to carry out an EU-wide impact assessment on the pesticide cut-off measures.

“We are now facing a serious risk of introducing legislation which in Gordon Brown’s own words ‘will damage agriculture and food production without securing meaningful benefit for health or the environment’.”

The Ombudsman, who investigates complaints about maladministration in the bodies of the EU, must rule on the admissibility of the complaint within a month, before taking up the complaint with the EU Commission.

* The Food Chain Group comprises representatives of over 20 organisations including the Crop Protection Association, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the NFU, the Food and Drink Federation, the British Retail Consortium, the Fresh Produce Consortium and the Country Land and Business Association.

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