MEPs vote to increase transparency in pesticide approval

Plans to increase trust in the EU approval procedure of pesticides, by making it more transparent and accountable, were given the green light by the European Parliament this afternoon (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 a number of 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.

In addition, the European Commission has been called upon by MEPs 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.

MEPs have also voiced opinions that 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”.

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.

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.

Finally, MEPs have stressed 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, according to opinions voiced today.