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ECPA calls for European Food Safety Authority Study


06 Oct 2008


Trade & Society
Sustainable Dev.
Health & Consumers
Agriculture & Food

The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) is calling for the European Parliament and Commission to request an independent, comprehensive impact assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on Parliament's and Council's proposed pest management restriction criteria.  The request was addressed to EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou in response to the release of what ECPA describes as a narrowly focussed and highly flawed report undertaken for the European Parliament's Environment Committee.

"The recently tabled report is based on a limited selection of available literature, and appears to have reached conclusions without considering all the relevant issues," said Friedhelm Schmider, Director General, of ECPA. 

"We are particularly concerned that the report evaluated and quoted studies that had already been discredited in reviews by international experts, highlighting serious flaws in the methodology used."

"In order to make an informed decision on what amounts to the re-engineering of European agriculture, at the very least legislators require an independent evaluation of the changes proposed."

To date, the view of the European Food Safety Authority has still not been requested in assessing the impact of the new criteria.  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."[1].

 "Given that Europe's food productivity is built upon a foundation of effective pest management, banning the tools without proper scientific consideration is irresponsible," said Schmider.  "EFSA should be asked immediately to provide an overall impact assessment of the Parliament's and Council's restriction criteria, in relation to the proposal for a Regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (COM(2006) 388).@

"EFSA's review of the criteria will ensure that all MEPs have an independent source of information upon which they can make an informed decision for the forthcoming second reading."

Editor's note: The paper released this week by the European Parliament looked at the cut-off criteria and the literature related to some aspects of human health. The assessment was carried out by consultants employed by Parliament - and not by the independent Authority created to provide such support to parliament, EFSA.

The paper states that "the starting point for gathering information for this overview has been the paper prepared for the Ontario College of Family Physicians (Sanborn et al., 2004)"

No reference is made to critical reviews of the Ontario paper. For example, in assessing the Ontario paper, the UK government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) found "serious flaws in the methods employed in the review.

Most important are:
- its failure to take account of all or even most of the relevant epidemiological evidence, and the biases inherent in the way in which material was picked out for inclusion;

- inadequate attention to exposure characteristics and relevant toxicology when interpreting reported associations; and

- its superficial synthesis of evidence, which inadequately explores the impact of the strengths and weaknesses of individual studies."

Overall, the ACP concluded that the report does not raise any new concerns about pesticide safety that had not already been addressed, and does not indicate any need for additional regulatory action in the UK.

These evaluations, which place the Parliament's report's findings in a questionable light, are readily available on the net:

CANTOX analysis:

PMRA (Canadian authority) evaluation:

ACP (UK advisory body to authority) evaluation:

The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) represents the crop protection industry interests at European level. Its members include all major companies and national associations across Europe. For more information:

For more information:
Euros Jones
Regulatory Affairs Director
European Crop Protection Association, aisbl
Tel: +32 2 663 1553
Switchboard : +32 (0)2 663 1550
For more general info: www.pesticideinformation.e