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Scientists voice concern over proposed EU legislation on pesticides

The SCI's BioResources and Horticulture Groups have added their voices to growing concerns about proposed European Union (EU) changes to pesticide regulations in an open letter to MEPs urging them to think seriously about the consequences of any changes on human health, food production, land use, food prices, pesticide resistance and sustainability and environmental biodiversity.

The Groups call for greater assessment by the European Commission on the impact on food production in the EU, warning that if further amendments seeking more stringent registration criteria are approved, could lead to the withdrawal of at least 30% of active ingredients and the substitution of a further 50% (read full text).

The Groups argue that this would make agricultural and horticultural production within the EU inefficient, uneconomic and uncompetitive.

Dr Len Copping, vice-chairman of SCI’s BioResources Group, said: ‘We have become used to a wide choice of food at very low prices and it is essential to employ all the science at our disposal to ensure that high quality food continues to be available to us at acceptable prices. The loss of these essential tools to reduce the deleterious impact of weeds, diseases and pests will lead to loss of quality, reductions in yield, increased pest resistance and higher food prices.’

In their letter, the Groups also say the hazard-based approach lacks legitimacy since it takes no account of exposure levels. The letter points out that although the major change has been promoted as a health issue, it is the Agriculture directorate which must implement the changes, but, as yet, there has been no input from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) despite the request from the European Crop Protection Association for its independent and comprehensive impact assessment.

The Groups say this is a clear oversight, given the fact that a key role of EFSA is to ‘provide scientific advice and technical support for the Community's legislation on issues which have an impact on food safety’.

MEPs will be voting on 5 November 2008. Other organisations which have voiced concerns over the proposals include the National Farmers Union, Crop Protection Association, British Crop Production Council, British Retail Consortium and the Fresh Produce Consortium.

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For more information, contact: SCI Marketing, T: +44 (0)20 7598 1586, F: +44 (0) 20 7598 1545, E: marketing@soci.org

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