CropLife America, along with nearly 50 agricultural organizations and associations, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman regarding pending decisions concerning implementing legislation in the European Union (EU) governing crop protection products that could have significant consequences for U.S. agricultural exports. The letter expresses concern that the EU may implement legislation in a manner that is “scientifically questionable, unduly trade-restrictive and inconsistent with the EU’s commitments in the World Trade Organization (WTO).” The letter further asks Ambassador Froman “to reiterate [his] concerns in the coming weeks, and to put Commissioners on notice that [the U.S.] will hold them to their WTO obligations.”

As the letter states, “Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009, which governs the registration of pesticides in the EU, establishes several hazard-based “cut-off” criteria that essentially exclude certain categories of products from consideration for normal authorization. For such products, the EU would not perform a risk assessment. Rather, it would declare them to be ineligible for authorization, or reauthorization, based on their intrinsic properties, without taking into account important risk factors such as level of exposure. It is likely that a number of widely used substances will not be re-approved due to these cut-off criteria when their current registration expires.”

The letter further explains that, if the legislation is implemented in this manner, “the EU would be ignoring its own risk assessments. For most of the substances at issue, the EU has already established MRLs (Maximum Residue Levels) at levels calculated to ensure consumer safety, based on risk assessments performed in recent years by the European Food Safety Authority. It would also be ignoring MRLs established by the Codex Alimentarius,” also known as the Food Code, developed by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, and the World Health Organization.

“The potential effect of this implementation would not only hurt growers and consumers in the EU, but U.S. agricultural producers as well,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “From fruits and vegetables to nuts and processed foods, the sale of nearly all of our bulk commodities to the EU might no longer be permitted. We urge Ambassador Froman to address this concern and ensure that U.S. growers can still use the most advanced, most precise pesticide technologies available to them. Consumers around the world need access to affordable food; this legislation hinders growers from making that possible.”

Signatories of the letter also called on Ambassador Froman to express concern regarding draft documents released by the European Commission (EC) that would establish specific criteria for identifying so-called endocrine disruptors. The documents follow the hazard-only approach, with little to no consideration of exposure to any chemical. These EU documents ignore other endocrine policy programs and well-researched and verifiable data available from governmental peers worldwide, including from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program which follows a risk- and exposure-based approach based on solid research.

With this pending implementation, and other regulations regarding crop protection chemicals in the EU, the EC has repeatedly taken a hazard-based approach, taking into account only the intrinsic properties of a chemical without consideration of potency, exposure, or benefits to society. CLA and its members continue to support a risk-based approach to the regulation of crop protection products around the world, and to oppose precautionary, hazard-based regulation of crop protection products.