Pesticide regulators in the United States and Canada have announced their commitment to a global approach to the regulation of agricultural pesticides. Developed by the OECD Working Group on Pesticides, this approach will make the approval process for agricultural pesticides safer, faster and more efficient. Government pesticide regulatory authorities will be able to work together to ensure high levels of protection and access to important pest control products.

New pesticides are introduced to the market every year. Before consumers can buy these products, companies seeking to market them must submit a large package of data to governments, whose role it is to ensure that the pesticides meet health, environment and safety standards. Pesticides already on the market are re-evaluated to ensure that they continue to meet these standards. In the past, this process of pesticide approval and registration was carried out by each country individually. While some progress has been made to share the work of evaluation of pesticides, in many cases these processes are still carried out by each country individually.

Using the objectives laid out in The OECD Vision for the Future of a Global Approach to the Regulation of Agricultural Pesticides, governments' pesticide regulators have agreed to, by 2014, routinely 1) accept data submissions prepared by industry in the agreed OECD format; 2) exchange and use reviews of the data prepared in the OECD format to support independent risk assessments and regulatory decisions; 3) generate just one review report (or "monograph") for each new pesticide that could be used across all OECD countries, where feasible; and 4) ensure that the benefits derived and experiences gained from work sharing are taken into other international arenas to help developing countries efficiently manage their regulatory systems.

The success of this approach depends on both the country regulatory authorities and industry participation. The pesticide producing industry is expected to coordinate, to the extent possible, their submissions globally in order to maximise work sharing opportunities and prevent trade issues. The industry is also expected to support the sharing of monographs.

The new arrangements will allow governments to improve the soundness of the science behind regulatory decisions and to review new, safer, products and registered pesticides more efficiently. Consumers will benefit from more consistent and transparent pesticide regulation across countries. Farmers will benefit from quicker access to new and safer pesticides, and industry from lower trade barriers and costs associated with the regulatory process.

The U.S. and Canadian pesticide regulatory authorities committed to the Vision during an OECD meeting in Washington D.C. on 31 January 2005. The Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Steve Johnson, and the Acting Executive Director of Canada's Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency, and current chair of the OECD Working Group on Pesticides, Wendy Sexsmith, jointly announced their commitment to achieving the objectives of improved regulatory harmonisation and an extension of the arrangements to other OECD countries. They were joined by the President and CEO of CropLife America, Jay Vroom, and the Executive Director of CropLife Canada, Peter MacLeod, who affirmed the support for the Vision by the leading companies they represent and encouraged their members to maximise opportunities for work-sharing between the regulatory authorities of OECD member countries.

Further announcements by European and Asian/Pacific governments in OECD and companies are anticipated in the coming months.

Source: Organization release