Commission to consider halting export of banned pesticides, EU source says

“We need to make sure that our legislation applies the same approach to what we allow in our market and what we export to other markets," the source told EURACTIV. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

The European Commission will look to ensure that hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, banned in the European Union are not produced for export, including by “amending relevant legislation if and as needed”, an EU source has confirmed to EURACTIV.

Currently, the EU’s prior informed consent (PIC) regulation permits the production and export of hazardous chemicals to third countries, including pesticides classified as too dangerous either for human health or for the environment, and therefore too hazardous for use on European soil.

However, this could soon be set to change, the EU source confirmed.

Campaigners call on EU to halt export of banned pesticides

Civil society organisations are calling on the EU to halt the production and export of banned pesticides to third countries, some of which they say can be detected in food sold back to the EU market.

Asked whether the Commission would look to halt the export of hazardous pesticides, the source, who asked to be anonymous, said “we want to show coherence”.

“How can we justify putting the health and the environment of others outside the EU at risk with products that we do not want to use in the EU for health and environmental concerns?” the source said, stressing that “we need to make sure that our legislation applies the same approach to what we allow in our market and what we export to other markets”.

“We do not only want to strengthen controls of what we import in the EU, but also make sure that what we export is safe” the source reiterated, adding that this must be in line with the Green Deal commitment to lead the way on health and environmental standards globally.

Contacted by EURACTIV, a Commission press officer for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries confirmed that with its chemicals strategy, the Commission “wants the EU to lead by example, and, in line with international commitments, ensure that hazardous chemicals banned in the European Union are not produced for export”.

This includes amending relevant legislation if and as needed, they stated.

EU chemicals strategy to address pesticide chemical cocktails

The EU chemicals strategy adopted on Wednesday (14 October) aims to address the cumulative and combined effects of chemicals, including pesticides, stressing a need to accelerate work on methodologies that ensure existing provisions can be fully implemented. 

This will come as welcome news to campaigners, who have been calling for an end to the export of banned pesticides, pointing out that pesticides deemed unsafe for EU soil run the same risks elsewhere.

“It is unacceptable that the EU allows European companies to make profits by exporting pesticides that have been banned in the EU due to human health and environmental concerns to countries with weaker environmental and human health laws,” Angeliki Lysimachou, science policy officer of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, told EURACTIV.

She added that she was pleased to hear that the Commission will look to put an end to this practice and will carry out all the necessary legal amendments to achieve this.

However, CropLife International, an international trade association of agrochemical companies, contested this stance, stressing in a recent statement that some pesticides that are banned in the EU have important uses elsewhere.

“One size does not fit all – agriculture, pests and diseases are different across regions and countries,” its statement warned.

They added that pesticides are not automatically more hazardous or less necessary because they are not authorised in Europe.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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