Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2017

Commission Consultation, 13 November 2017

PESTICIDES - Commission consultation: Public Consultation on the REFIT evaluation of the EU legislation on plant protection products and pesticide residues

The Commission has launched a REFIT consultation. The following are the introductory secrtions from the consultation page. A supporting document is available on this site. The consultation closes on the 12 February 2018. For more details, see:

Target group

All EU as well as non-EU citizens are welcome to contribute to this consultation.

In addition to this public consultation, there is another survey specifically tailored for stakeholders working with pesticides and pesticide residues. If you would like to respond to the targeted stakeholder survey on behalf of an association, it is available here.

Objective of the consultation

The public consultation aims to collect the views of citizens on the EU legislation on pesticides and pesticides residues. It seeks to receive information on how citizens view the strengths and weaknesses of the legislation and the perceived level of protection of human and animal health and the environment

What is a pesticide? A pesticide is a product that prevents, destroys, or controls a harmful organism (the ‘pest’) or disease. Pesticides are primarily used in agriculture to protect plants from insects, weeds, fungi, etc. The most important part of a pesticide is the so-called active substance. Just as in a drug treating human diseases, the active substance in a pesticide is the key component that brings about the desired effect. An active substance can be either chemical or (micro-) biological. Since 2011, Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 (the “Pesticide  Regulation”) regulates the approval of active substances and the placing of pesticides on the market. For more information, see the European Commission website on pesticides.

What is a pesticide residue? The traces of pesticides that can be found in products like food and feed are called residues. The maximum residue level (MRL) is the amount of pesticide that is legally allowed to remain in a given product. Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 (the “Pesticide residue Regulation”) came into force in 2008 and has since regulated and harmonised the setting of maximum residue levels in the EU. For more information, see the European Commission website on pesticides residues.

Several authorities are involved in implementing the rules of the Pesticide and Pesticide Residue Regulations:  EU Member States, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Commission. Bringing a pesticide to the market is a two-step process: Firstly, the active substance needs to be approved at the EU level. Secondly, the producer of a pesticide containing an approved active substance can apply for an authorisation of this product in individual Member States. In parallel, maximum residue levels are set at the EU level for the pesticide, if required. For crops grown outside the EU, maximum residue levels are set on the request of the exporting country.

This Public Consultation is part of a broader consultation strategy, which includes stakeholder surveys designed to collect the views of stakeholder organisations and Member State Authorities.

Further information on the consultation strategy, as well as links to the stakeholders surveys, can be found on a dedicated website of the European Union. The responses will be taken into consideration in preparation of a Staff Working Document, written by the European Commission, presenting the results of the REFIT evaluation.

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