EU pesticide approval procedure to become clearer, safer

The EU special committee on pesticides has adopted plans to make the EU pesticide approval procedure more transparent and accountable.

MEPs agreed that members of the public should be allowed to access the studies used to support the EU’s decision to approve the use of pesticides, including supporting data and information on the applications.  The new EU pesticide approval procedure, designed to promote transparency and accountability in committees and members who approve new active substances, emphasise the need for greater public awareness of approval protocols.

Rapporteur Bart Staes said: “We ask for full transparency with regard to the studies used for the assessment, to make them more independent and based on scientific evidence, to avoid conflicts of interests, to fully test active substances, to thoroughly test pesticide products, including the cumulative effects and for stronger risk management measures.”

The updated EU pesticide approval procedure will require all regulatory studies on active substances to be stored in a publicly visible register. A “comment period” between application and approval will occur, allowing stakeholders to provide additional data to support their claim. The new protocols also strengthen the evaluation of pesticides after they are approved; and the committee urges the Commission to begin an epidemiological study on pesticides’ long term impact on human health.

Committee Chairman Eric Andrieu said: “There are common positions on the essential elements. It is a question of revising the EU pesticide approval procedure for the authorisation of molecules and making concrete recommendations. This is the mission we set ourselves in order not to get lost in the many challenges – in particular, we ask Member States to no longer approve synthetic active substances.”

In order to maximise political accountability, the new EU pesticide approval procedure includes provision for a “comitology procedure”; whereby when new pesticides are approved by MEPs, committees must publish the minutes of their meetings, including how each member voted.