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Improvement needed in EU pesticide regulation

Call to improve pesticide regulations

European pesticide regulation and implementation need to be urgently improved, according to the draft report (published 19 September) from the European Parliament Special Committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST).   

The Soil Association welcomes the findings of the report which highlights reforms to the pesticide approvals process and overall regulatory system that are "necessary in order to ensure the achievement of a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment".

The report, published ahead of the committee meeting on 27 September, highlights the need for greater transparency and that independent, peer reviewed studies should receive the same weighting as pesticide industry studies. It also calls for a post-marketing monitoring system for pesticides, to enable proper assessment of the long-term effects on human and animal health and on the environment.

Emma Hockridge, Soil Association Head of Policy, said: "This report highlights the many failings of the current pesticide regulatory system. This includes the outrageous state of affairs in which pesticide industry studies are given greater recognition than scientific peer-reviewed open literature.

"The UK government should ensure that the final recommendations from this report are included in changes to the UK pesticide regulatory system which may come about as a result of Brexit. Whilst the EU pesticide approval procedures currently apply in the UK, there are concerns that regulation could be weakened after Brexit, which would put human and animal health and the environment at higher risk.

"Pesticide use in the UK is increasing yet the government is doing too little to help farmers get off the pesticide treadmill and paying too little attention to the risks of pesticide use to wildlife and human health.

"Alongside a stronger and more transparent system of pesticide regulation, we need a whole scale rethink of our farming systems so that nature friendly farming methods, such as organic, become the norm. Public concern about pesticide use is one reason for the growing demand for organic food.

"This should be a major opportunity for British farmers to convert to organic systems and continue to produce high quality food without relying on synthetic pesticides - but it won’t happen without strong government support."