The EU Parliament put forward plans Wednesday to make the EU approval procedure of pesticides more transparent and accountable, including granting the public access to studies used in authorisation.
In their vote, MEPs agreed 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 – endorsing one of the many 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 has brought to light serious shortcomings in the authorisation of pesticides,” said said co-rapporteur Bart Staes MEP: “The overwhelming support for reform of the pesticide authorisation procedure through more transparency and independent research is a wakeup call for EU governments and the European Commission, as well as a way forward to restore citizens’ trust in EU decision-making.”
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.
MEPs are calling on the European Commission 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.
Post-market evaluation should also be strengthened, and MEPs want the Commission to 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 are calling on the Commission to allocate the authorisation renewal to a different member state.
MEPs finally stress 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.