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MEPs call for more pre- and post-approval agchem data

Data requirements for EU approvals of agrochemicals should be amended to include long-term toxicity and the European Commission should launch an epidemiological study on the “real-life impact” of pesticides on human health, says a European Parliament committee.

Data requirements for EU approvals of agrochemicals should be amended to include long-term toxicity and the European Commission should launch an epidemiological study on the “real-life impact” of pesticides on human health, says a European Parliament committee. The calls to strengthen pre- and post-market evaluation come in a report adopted by the Parliament’s special committee on pesticides by 23 votes to five and one abstention. MEPs voted on over 1,000 amendments to a draft report and a “large amount of compromises” were negotiated, the committee notes.

The committee raises concerns about applicants being able to choose the rapporteur member state that handles the assessment of active ingredients, saying that this lacks transparency and could entail a conflict of interests. It calls on the Commission to allocate the assessment of renewals of EU approvals to a different country. The MEPs also call for more transparency in the way member-state representatives vote on draft approval decisions. The Commission and member states should publish detailed minutes and make their votes public, they maintain.

Many recommendations in the document echo proposals already made by the European Commission earlier this year, including granting public access to registration studies and establishing a register of studies that applicants intend to carry out. Public access to studies should include “all the supporting data and information relating to the applications,” the committee says. During the authorisation procedure, all planned regulatory studies should be listed in a public register with a “comment period”, allowing stakeholders to “provide additional existing data to ensure that all relevant information is taken into account before a decision is made”.

The committee calls for another review of existing studies on the carcinogenicity of the herbicide, glyphosate. Maximum residue levels for soils and surface water should be set, it adds. Controversy over differing scientific opinions on glyphosate contributed to the decision to set up the committee, although its draft report acknowledged that it had been unable to resolve the issue.

The co-authors of the draft report, Norbert Lins of the conservative European Peoples Party and Bart Staes of the Greens, stress that they want an authorisation procedure that remains science-based. The recommendations seek improvements without overhauling structures that work, says Mr Lins. Pesticide ais and products should be thoroughly tested, including cumulative effects, and there should be stronger risk management measures, Mr Staes adds. The report says that the EU framework should “stimulate innovation and propose sustainable” products. “We ask member states to no longer approve synthetic active substances,” says Committee chair Eric Andrieu.

A vote by the full Parliament on the report is scheduled for its January 2019 session.
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