Pesticide threat fast becoming reality

European pesticide manufacturers appear to have failed in their attempts to stave of new EU rules that will take large numbers of their products off the market.

The EU Commission agreed last week to a new set of proposals that will introduce certain cut-off criteria into the approvals process. This will outlaw any pesticides that contain active ingredients that are deemed hazardous – for example that are carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting.

Pesticide manufacturers say this will lead to 15% of products being deregistered and 24% substituted.

They maintain that the existing legislation should not be changed until a full impact assessment has been carried out.

But it has emerged that EU agriculture ministers will pass the plan as an “A point” at their meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (23 June), without debate.

The EU Commission managed to get enough support for its proposals at this week’s meeting of member state experts in Brussels for it to guarantee safe passage in the farm council on Monday.

British Crop Production Council chairman Colin Ruscoe told FWi that he had initially expected Poland to raise an objection, and for the UK and Ireland to vote against the proposal.

But his latest understanding was that the UK and Ireland would abstain, while everyone else would accept the plan.

The next stage will be for the EU Commission proposal to go back to the European parliament for a second reading.

But the parliament wants an even stricter interpretation of the rules, with more cut-off criteria built in. The ECPA reckons the European parliament’s version could take 85% of existing crop protection products off the market.

The end point is expected to be somewhere between the commission’s and the parliament’s proposal, with the new rules kicking in in 2010.