The EU Parliament's adoption of the new pesticide regulation on 13 January has led to controversy over claims by the European Parliament's Rapporteur of a 'blacklist' of 22 active substances which would be banned, starting in 2009.
"Apart from the unscientific basis of the legislation, we have an immediate issue with the so-called 'blacklist'," says Dr Colin Ruscoe, Chairman of BCPC (British Crop Production Council). "The new regulation does not contain a 'blacklist' of substances, merely the requirement for their evaluation using new guideline studies and assessment criteria. Whether these substances will be withdrawn depends entirely on this further evaluation - which will only just be starting in 2009."
Whilst Green Rapporteur, Hiltrud Breyer claims that the new regulation "is a win-win situation, not only for the environment, public health, consumer protection but also for the European economy," there are serious concerns about the loss of key products and implications to farmers, growers and those in the amenity sector. As well as the UK, it is likely that Ireland, Spain and Hungary will also oppose the regulation at the forthcoming Council of Ministers, on the basis that it will seriously affect agricultural production and increase food prices.
"In the run-up to the EU Parliament vote, considerable effort was made to highlight the negative impacts and move the legislation on to a more scientifically-based footing," explains Dr Ruscoe. "Following the Parliamentary vote, it was to be hoped that debate would focus on rational and practical aspects of implementation. It is therefore disappointing - and indeed dangerous - that disinformation by the Parliament's Rapporteur refers to a 'blacklist' of products".
"The problem we face is that this list will be widely publicised and people will be misled," warns Dr Ruscoe. "Agrochemical stockists will be reluctant to supply the products believing that there are safety issues. Food retailers may put them on their 'redlist' of products not to be used by their suppliers. And farmers and growers will not want to use them if it could affect the supply of their produce. This could result in the removal of key products, proven to be safe under the existing stringent risk-based regulatory regime, which have been used for many years by farmers and growers to ensure high quality production of key arable and horticultural crops. Retailers and farmers alike need to be alert to this issue."
"To obviate this danger we are calling on the Commission to make it absolutely clear that no such "blacklist" exists, and that all products will be evaluated properly against the provisions of the new legislation," he says.