Organisations involved in the UK food and farming sectors, including the British Crop Production Council, have expressed great concern at the European Commission’s proposed criteria for endocrine disruptors (EDs), within the Plant Protection Products Regulation. A joint letter to George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Defra, urges him to take a robust position. “The signatories are particularly concerned that the proposed criteria will lead to the withdrawal from the market of important plant protection products, which will adversely crop production and so UK competitiveness in agriculture, food and trade,” said Dr. Colin Ruscoe, President of BCPC.
The current ED criteria are based on the World Health Organisation International Programme on Chemical Safety (WHO/IPCS) definition, which is unsuitable on its own to support regulatory decision-making. They fail to be take into account all elements of hazard characterisation, including potency, severity and duration of effect, and elimination, all critical to the overall risk assessment needed to determine any real danger to human health and the environment.
“Until the UK formally exits the EU, we remain subject to EU law and regulations, and under the government’s Repeal Bill proposals, for some time afterwards. We have therefore strongly urged the Minister to continue to promote use of science-based risk assessment as the basis of EU regulation to support modern, productive and sustainable agriculture in Europe, and to challenge hard the Commission’s flawed proposals on EDs,” said Dr. Ruscoe.
Furthermore, the Commission is now proposing two acts, one covering the proposed criteria, and a new one, to amend the current negligible risk derogation. The derogation is crucial to avoiding negative impacts on trade, since it allows MRLs based on risk assessment. “This raises concern that the Commission is creating a focus on the derogation to get even this opportunity curtailed,” warned Dr. Ruscoe.