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President RASE & BCPC Letter to European Ombudsman

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					Wootton House
Wootton St Lawrence
Basingstoke
Hampshire
RG23 8PE

T: 01256 780 336
M: 07836 245 822
E: ho-b@chui.org.uk

President BCPC/Chairman RASE


12 December 2008

Mr P Nikiforos Diamandouros
The European Ombudsman
1 Avenue du Président Robert Schuman
CS 30403
FR - 67001 Strasbourg Cedex


Dear Mr Diamandouros
EU Commission’s failure to conduct a complete and appropriate impact assessment on the
proposal for a Regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market.
I represent two agricultural charities in the United Kingdom; the British Crop Production Council,
which has expertise in the area of plant protection products, their use in agricultural production
and the Royal Agricultural Society of England a charity, whose charitable objective’s stated aims
are to achieve a sustainable vibrant future for British agriculture and the rural economy and
assist the transfer of science and technology to the agricultural industry. In addition, the Society
is concerned with the social welfare of rural communities and the encouragement of education
on rural issues. Thus, the matters discussed in this letter are key areas of interest to both
charities.
Summary

In July 2006, the European Commission adopted a proposal to replace Directive 91/414/EEC
(Regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market). The proposal
was accompanied by an assessment of the potential impact of proposal. However, the impact
assessment failed to account for the elements most likely to impact agriculture: hazard-based
regulatory cut off criteria.
It is the firm belief of the British Crop Production Council and the Royal Agricultural Society of
England, as well as many other informed food chain stakeholders across the EU, that the review
of Council Directive 91/414/EEC has therefore been administered in a flawed manner and
warrants investigation by the EU ombudsman.


                                           Registered in England. Registered office:
                       Royal Agricultural Society of England, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ
                      T: 024 7669 6969 F: 024 7669 6900 E: info@rase.org.uk W: www.rase.org.uk

                           VAT Registration No: GB646921908 Registered Charity No: 209961
The European Commission has executive responsibility for the administration of European
legislation (Council Directive 91/414/EEC1) and its implementing measures, for the approval of
plant protection products on the European market. In July 2006, the European Commission
adopted a proposal to replace Directive 91/414/EEC.
Publication of the proposal was accompanied by an impact assessment in accordance with the
Commission’s declarations on better regulation. This study, however, failed to consider the
impact of introducing new (hazard-based) regulatory cut-off criteria to the approval process for
active substances. This raises significant concern as this fundamental shift from science-based
risk assessment to the use of hazard-based regulatory cut-off criteria clearly presented the
greatest potential impact on availability of plant production products and hence agricultural
production, under the new regulatory regime. The Commission has responsibility to ensure that
decision makers (European Council and European Parliament) have an in-depth understanding of
all policy options and their potential impact before legislative proposals are subject to decision
making.
In November 2007, the European Parliament adopted its first reading amendments in plenary and
then in June 2008, the Council common position was adopted. Ironically, the delay in adoption
of the Council common position was due to concerns from several Member States about the
detrimental impact of the proposal on agricultural production. Following each of these
milestones, Commissioner Vassiliou (DG SANCO) made public statements attempting to reassure
concerned stakeholders that the proposed replacement of Directive 91/414/EEC would "not have
a serious impact on agriculture". Commissioner Vassiliou also wrote to Miroslav Ouzky, Chairman
of Parliament’s Environmental Committee, just before the Committee’s vote, and explained that
the impact assessment conducted by the UK’s Pesticide Safety Directorate (PSD)2 was, “Based on
a worst case scenario and unrealistic figures”.
Reference was made to this letter by the rapporteur, immediately before the vote, and members
of the committee were asked to disregard claims, resulting from PSD’s impact assessment, that
the proposed legislation would have a major impact on agriculture.
To this date, DG SANCO has still not conducted an impact assessment on perceived benefits for
human health or the environment, both of which are strongly contested by the plant protection
industry and at no stage has a scientific opinion been asked of the European Food Safety
Authority.

1
  Council Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (OJ L230,
19.08.91, p1)
2
  http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/uploadedfiles/Web_Assets/PSD/Impact_report_final_
                                             Registered in England. Registered office:
                         Royal Agricultural Society of England, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ
                        T: 024 7669 6969 F: 024 7669 6900 E: info@rase.org.uk W: www.rase.org.uk

                             VAT Registration No: GB646921908 Registered Charity No: 209961
There have been repeated calls from policy makers and stakeholders for an assessment of the
likely impact via the Commission and Member State Governments
 European Parliament written question E-5843/08
 European Parliament written question E-5640/08
 European Parliament written question E5343/2008
 European Parliament written question E-4802/08
 Common letter from OEITFL, Freshfel & AREFLH dated 07.08.08;
 Letter from Pesticides Forum dated 23.06.08;
 Open letter to European Commission in European Voice
 Letter from UK Food Chain to UK Prime Minister on need for impact assessment 26.9.08
 Letter from Greek Food Chain to Greek Prime Minister on need for impact assessment
  21.11.08
 Letter from UK Secretary of State DEFRA to UK Crop Protection Association 27.11.08
 Letter from the UK Prime Minister to All Party Science Technology Agriculture Group 3.12.08
 Letter from the UK Prime Minister to the Crop Protection Association 10.12.08
After many such requests and statements of concern, DG SANCO broke its silence on this issue,
and acknowledged that the hazard-based regulatory cut-off criteria were not included in the
original impact assessment. To make matters worse, DG SANCO has provided three separate and
mutually-conflicting reasons why an impact assessment on cut-off criteria was not undertaken:
 “because at the time of its original proposal it was not possible to anticipate which
  substances would remain on the market at the end of the review; 3;
 "because there was nothing new about cut-off criteria"4; and
 “because DG SANCO tries to never mention names of active substances outside formal
  procedures.5



3
  EP question P-3721/08EN and answer given by Mrs Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission.
4
  Oral statement made by DG SANCO functionaire at the European Voice conference "What role for
Pesticides in Sustainable Agriculture"?
5
 DG SANCO presentation to members of the “Advisory Group on cereals, oilseeds and Protein Crops”
                                           Registered in England. Registered office:
                       Royal Agricultural Society of England, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ
                      T: 024 7669 6969 F: 024 7669 6900 E: info@rase.org.uk W: www.rase.org.uk

                           VAT Registration No: GB646921908 Registered Charity No: 209961
Conclusion
At the time of issuing its proposal to replace Directive 91/414/EEC, DG SANCO failed to provide a
comprehensive and appropriate assessment on the potential impact on human health, the
environment or agriculture likely from the fundamental shift from science-based risk assessment
to hazard-based regulatory cut-off criteria in the approval of plant protection products. Having
failed to evaluate the impact of the key component of the proposed legislation, DG SANCO misled
Member States, policy makers and stakeholders by stating that this fundamental change in the
approval process would only have minimal impact. Despite expressions of serious concern and
requests from many food chain stakeholders, highlighting the major negative impact that the
proposed legislation could have on the agricultural economy, food prices and food security, DG
SANCO has still not initiated a European impact analysis on cut off criteria. This should be
conducted without delay, and policy makers should be made aware of the outcome, before
implementation of the proposed Regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products
on the market.
I look forward to hearing from you shortly on this issue. I would welcome the opportunity to
arrange a meeting with you in the next few weeks to discuss this matter in more detail.
Yours Sincerely




Hugh Oliver-Bellasis FRAgS
President BCPC
Chairman Royal Agricultural Society of England




                                          Registered in England. Registered office:
                      Royal Agricultural Society of England, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ
                     T: 024 7669 6969 F: 024 7669 6900 E: info@rase.org.uk W: www.rase.org.uk

                          VAT Registration No: GB646921908 Registered Charity No: 209961

				
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Description: President RASE & BCPC Letter to European Ombudsman