Plans to boost trust in the EU approval procedure of pesticides, by making it more transparent and accountable, were put forward by Parliament on Wednesday, January 16.
MEPs agreed that the public should be granted access to the studies used in the procedure to authorise a pesticide, including all the supporting data and information relating to the applications, thus endorsing one of the many proposals put forward by the “Special committee on the European Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides” which has been examining the issue for the past year. The Special committee report was adopted with 526 votes to 66 and 72 abstentions.
During the procedure, applicants should be required to register all regulatory studies that will be carried out in a public register, and allow for a “comment period”, during which stakeholders are able to provide additional existing data to ensure that all relevant information is taken into account before a decision is made.
Post-market evaluation and real-life impact
MEPs call on the European Commission to propose measures to protect vulnerable groups and put an end to pesticides being used over long distances in the vicinity of schools, childcare facilities, playing fields, hospitals, maternity hospitals and care homes.
Post-market evaluation should be strengthened, and the EU Commission should launch an epidemiological study on the real-life impact of pesticides on human health, MEPs say. They also propose that existing studies on carcinogenicity of glyphosate should be reviewed and maximum residue levels for soils and surface water should be set.
EU Commission should allocate the authorisation renewal
MEPs note that concerns have been raised about the right of applicants to choose a particular member state to report on the approval of an active substance to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as this practice is seen as lacking in transparency and could entail a conflict of interests. They call on the EU Commission to allocate the authorisation renewal to a different member state.
MEPs finally stress the need to ensure political accountability when authorisation is adopted in the form of implementing acts – in the so-called “comitology procedure”. Commission and member states should publish detailed minutes and make their votes public.
Nine years after the adoption of the Plant Protection Products Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009) and following the controversy about the renewal of glyphosate, the European Parliament, on 6 February 2018, set up a Special committee on the European Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides. The PEST Committee’s mandate, as laid down in Parliament’s decision of 6 February 2018, required the special committee to look into the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides as a whole.
“It is crucial that the approval procedure remains science-based. On such an important issue, scientific research is the be-all and end-all. Interests or ideologies have no place here. This decision must not be dependent on daily politics or emotions”, said co-rapporteur Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) .
“The Special Committee has brought to light serious shortcomings in the authorisation of pesticides. The PEST report and the EP is now demanding big improvements. The overwhelming support for reform of the pesticide authorisation procedure through more transparency and independent research is a wakeup call for EU governments and the European Commission, as well as a way forward to restore citizens’ trust in EU decision-making.”, said co-rapporteur Bart Staes (Greens/EFA, BE).
“Recent revelations about plagiarism confirm that the work of our investigative committee was necessary. We urge the European Commission to review the pesticide authorisation system in Europe and to immediately re-evaluate the authorisation of glyphosate”, said Committee Chairman Eric Andrieu (S&D, FR).