Strong views on UK pesticide regulation post-Brexit expressed at BCPC Congress

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The Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) held its now-traditional interactive Workshop at the BCPC Congress (EU Regulatory Affairs) on the 4 October 2016.

In the Workshop, entitled “What are the opportunities and risks for pesticide regulation in the UK following the EU referendum?” CRD used the session to seek opinions from the range of stakeholders who attended – and a large audience contributed actively.

Retention of CRD’s current good communication and high level of expertise was strongly supported. It was considered important to keep an effective UK voice and role in EU and OECD e.g. on MRLs and import tolerances and guidance development, with Standing Committee participation.

But of course there are things we want to change: not surprisingly, there was a clear desire to move from Hazard-based regulation to a Risk-based approach, strongly science-based and proportionate, whilst maintaining or improving current human and environmental safety standards and taking account of socio-economic benefits.  We should remove the Candidates for Substitution and Comparative Assessment requirements – instead, we should make greater use of the ‘risk envelope’ approach and risk mitigation.

Attendees wanted faster, pragmatic decision-making, with simple, transparent processes and a maximum two years to a registration/re-registration – with reasonable predictability of outcomes. This would be helped by minimising political interference and ever-changing goalposts!

Participants also wanted to stop unnecessary expiry of authorisations and routine reviews and introduce a US EPA-style data ‘call in’ system. We should simplify or remove efficacy requirements, and onerous assessments for minor uses and low risk products including bio-pesticides – and have an emergency approvals/essential uses system for unforeseen problems!

Uniform principles for evaluation, tiered risk assessments, equipment testing and controls on use were strongly supported, as was monitoring (to ensure that products are behaving as predicted in the risk assessment and/or being used properly). We should maintain current data protection rules and improve enforcement – such as anti-counterfeiting.

Finally, the attendees were unanimous that we should seek pragmatic harmonisation with the rest of the EU – and with other global authorities – to enable mutual recognition. We should still focus on UK’s need to trade within the EU, and do nothing to disadvantage our industry in comparison to EU competitors – but the new UK regime also needs to facilitate sales globally. It was strongly proposed that any new UK system should be independent of EFSA.

Jayne Wilder of CRD’s operational policy team said, “‘It is really valuable to hear the range of views expressed by our stakeholders.  Contributions from events such as this workshop help us to listen to and understand the aspirations of all.  This has obvious benefits in supporting us to deliver the regulatory regime for Plant Protection Products in an effective way.”

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