The manifesto for a new regulation on pesticides, entitled "Rigorous science, safe food, healthy environment", has captured the attention of citizens. scientists and European organizations and institutions that have already signed it.
Some 118 European organizations and institutions, in addition to dozens of European experts and scientists, grouped in the coalition 'Citizens for science in pesticide regulation', published a manifesto in which they demand a reform of the European Union's pesticide regulations . "
Specifically, the manifest calls for a higher level of protection against pesticides. An urgent reform of the current pesticide risk assessment procedure is requested to achieve a high level of protection of humans, animals and the environment against any harm caused by pesticides. The European Union already has one of the best regulations for pesticides in the world, in theory, but that is not implemented in practice.
The result of the lack of proper implementation of the regulation is a rapid collapse of biodiversity (birds, bees, butterflies, frogs and insects) in agricultural areas and serious harm to humans (including damage to the brain of the unborn fetus and a steady increase) in hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate). In addition to its inability to protect health and the environment, the current system also does not protect food security for future generations, as biodiversity, pollinators and soil fertility, the building blocks of a productive and resilient agriculture, are put at risk by pesticides.
"The ignorance of a large part of the population"
According to the head of Hogar sin toxicos, Carlos de Prada, “it is scandalous that the pesticide manufacturing industry de facto controls the regulation of the products they sell, and only the ignorance of a large part of the population about the operation of the systems of risk assessment means that there are still people who believe that they are in good hands ”.
The manifesto also mentions the latest Monsanto scandal (Monsanto papers): "Monsanto's internal documents unveiled in the recent cancer-related lawsuit in the United States demonstrate how the industry can actively misrepresent scientific views."
The expert panels of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which conduct the peer review and publish an opinion on whether the application meets the criteria for approval of the pesticide, continue to include people with financial ties to the agrochemical industry.
"It is clear that the industry must stay away from security testing and risk assessments," the statement said.
The document calls on European regulators for a total reform of the current risk assessment and management system, and proposes various practical solutions for the main deficiencies and shortcomings of the current system.
The proposals cover three different areas: prioritizing public health, defense of the environment and the sustainability of agriculture; ensure decision making based on complete, scientific and up-to-date data, free from industry bias.
It also proposes to articulate a system that allows organizations and administrations, civil society and the scientific community to supervise the integrity and effectiveness of the European policy on pesticides.
A complete overhaul of the current pesticide risk assessment and risk management systems is required, as follows:
A. PRIORITIZE PUBLIC HEALTH, THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
- The European Commission will propose the approval of a pesticidal substance only when all scientific evidence shows that the substance or the final product does not cause adverse effects on humans, animals and the environment, EFSA considers that all uses proposed by the industry are safe, and no safer alternative (substance or practice) is available.
- The Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides must be respected: pesticides should only be used as a last resort when all other non-chemical alternatives have been applied and failed.
- The European Commission, as risk manager, will operate transparently and responsibly. You must meet your obligation under pesticide regulation to prioritize public health and the environment over all other considerations, such as private benefit. The decision-making process, the discussions between the European Commission and the Member States, or any other entity, will be public.
- To allow EU farmers to improve their practices without being 'punished' by the markets, the European Commission will not put them in a position of unfair competition and therefore ban imported products that contain unapproved pesticide residues or that contain residues of any pesticide that exceeds the permitted levels, no exceptions.
B. ENSURE THAT DECISION-MAKERS TRUST THE COMPLETE, PUBLIC, CURRENT AND FREE DATA FROM THE BIAS INDUSTRY
- Pesticide safety testing must be performed by independent laboratories and not by the pesticide industry itself. The process will be paid for by a fund provided by the industry that will be administered by an independent public body such as EFSA.
- To avoid the selection of favorable data, all safety studies should be registered in advance. No safety study that is not registered will be used to support the regulatory authorization of a pesticide.
- All experts involved in risk assessment will be subject to a strict conflict of interest policy and rules. Any link with commercial interests will exclude them from the process.
- Existing guidelines on risk assessment should be reviewed in their entirety by independent scientists, as in many cases they were designed and promoted by the industry and are biased in favor of the interests of the industry.
- EU-funded research programs should prohibit industry-related people from joining projects that design or evaluate risk assessment methodologies.
- The data requirements to assess whether to authorize a pesticide need to be urgently updated, as the main health effects, such as immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption and developmental neurotoxicity, are not adequately covered and impacts on environmental ecosystems they are greatly underrated.
- Industry dossiers will only be accepted in the authorization process when all required data is submitted, including all independent peer-reviewed publications related to the health and environmental effects of the pesticide. Pesticides that do not meet all the requirements of the regulation should be prohibited.
- Pesticide formulations as sold and used (and not just the isolated active ingredient) must be tested and evaluated for crucial end points (e.g. mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, developmental toxicity and endocrine disruption) relevant to humans, mammals and all non-target species, such as bees, birds, frogs, and earthworms.
- The pesticide residue cocktails that EU citizens are exposed to every day should be considered when calculating 'safe' daily exposure levels. Until this is implemented, an additional “safety” factor of 10 will be applied to all pesticide risk assessments. This additional safety factor will also be applied in calculating acceptable environmental concentrations of pesticides.
C. ENABLE DECISION-MAKERS, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY TO WRITE THE INTEGRITY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE POLICY
- All results and data from all pesticide safety tests will be posted on the Internet in a consistent, searchable format.
- National authorities will carry out routine independent post-approval monitoring of the effects of pesticides on health and the environment. The monitoring will be paid for from a fund provided by the pesticide industry but managed by an independent body. There should be no contact on these matters between the monitoring authorities and the industry.
With information from: