EU’s Race to Zero Tolerance Risks Global Trade and Farmer Livelihoods

Whether it’s almonds from the United States, cocoa from Ghana, or rice from India, we enjoy eating good food from around the world. We expect it to be delicious and nutritious and we need to know that it is safe. That’s why trade in crops that have been produced using pesticides is regulated through the setting of import tolerances in the form of maximum pesticide residue levels (MRLs) – a trading standard to ensure all food is safe for our consumption. MRLs have a large built-in safety margin to protect consumer health.

In today’s globalized world where green beans can be harvested in Uganda one day and eaten by a consumer in Europe the next, it is important that MRLs are harmonized to avoid trade disruptions. But there is growing concern that the European Union is going in a different direction — banning crop protection products based on their hazardous properties (rather than real risk) and setting MRLs near to zero in response to campaign groups. If the trend continues, farmers will suffer because they cannot sell their product into Europe, while in the EU food prices will likely rise.

The EU is currently considering new regulation on chemicals that might interact with the human endocrine system. If politics overrules established science, the regulations will remove substances simply because they have a hazardous property. This unscientific approach is inconsistent with other global regulatory standards and could lead to delays in market access, act as a disincentive to innovate new products, and have a serious impact on trade.

Pesticides which fail the EU’s new criteria will be prohibited from use by Europe’s farmers. Meanwhile MRLs on imported food could be set to the ‘default’ level of 0.01mg/kg — which is so small it would be akin to a ban. To put it into context, soybean imports into Europe have a 20mg/kg limit on glyphosate residues. Europe’s biggest trade partners were rightly worried that the recently debated ban on glyphosate would prohibit these imports, and the unintended victim would have been Europe’s livestock farmers who rely on imported soy for animal feed.

According to some estimates the impact of the endocrine regulation on EU imports could be as high as €65 billion ($78.2 billion) if the MRLs for banned products are set to the ‘default’ 0.01mg/kg — as would be the preference from campaign groups. It is likely that farmers in developing world countries will suffer the most, with an estimated €8 billion impact on sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, horticultural exports to the EU are a major business. The sector employs about 2 million people directly and 3.5 million people indirectly, and horticulture currently contributes around 10% to the nation’s GDP. Kenya joined 16 other governments at a recent World Trade Organization meeting to call for a strengthening of global harmonization of MRLs in a joint ministerial statement.

Globally MRLs are set by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), under the Codex Alimentarius (Latin for ‘Food Code’). The ministerial statement calls to increase the capacity and efficiency of Codex to improve global harmonization on MRLs, give greater farmer access to pesticides for minor use crops, and remove trade barriers. As an industry, we support the call to strengthen Codex and encourage FAO/WHO to continue to advocate for predictable and science-based MRLs that ensure trade facilitation, particularly on agricultural exports of developing countries.

Food safety must be the number one priority for industry and regulators, but the arbitrary reduction of MRLs due to hazard-based assessments does not improve food safety. While the approach in Europe may have good intentions, it would have a substantial negative impact on farmer livelihoods and the production of, and trade in, safe food and agricultural products.

Leave a Reply

Europe

Agrichemicals

Bayer Outlines Vision for Future for Ag

The company intends to broadly launch FarmRise in India in 2019, with additional expansion plans in the future for Asia, Africa and South America.

Agrichemicals

How Higher Tier Testing Would Answer the Neonicotinoid Question

Fera Science has built Europe’s largest free flow mesocosm to test the impact crop protection chemicals like pesticides and biocides have on aquatic ecosystems.

Europe

Heat, Drought Challenge BASF Production, Logistics

Due to the persistent high temperatures and low water levels in the Rhine, BASF SE announced on Aug. 6 has to adjust production and logistics at its Ludwigshafen site.

Adjuvants

Exosect Grants Monsanto License for Formulation Product

UK-based Exosect Ltd. announced it has granted Monsanto Company a license to use its Entostat technology for the delivery of select agricultural biologicals as seed treatments.

Biopesticides

3 Questions with BioTecnologie BT’s Piffanelli on EU Regulatory Environment

BioTecnologie BT is a Perugia, Italy-based contract research organization (CRO) specialized in the regulatory testing of biopesticides and biostimulants.

Agrichemicals

BASF Submits Dossiers for Two Herbicides

BASF announced it has submitted the regulatory dossier for Luximo herbicide in the European Union and in Australia, and for Tirexor herbicide in Australia.

Americas

AMVAC Acquires Bayer’s Bromacil Business

The assets being purchased include the Bromacil trademarks and product registrations for sale of Hyvar and Krovar in the USA and Canada.

Agrichemicals

As Agchem Complexity Grows, Specialists Take Off Some of the Heat

Chemical companies increasingly are using specialist suppliers to outsource the process development and production of complex new molecules.

Biopesticides

FMC, Chr. Hansen Extend Collaboration on Natural Crop Protection

FMC Corp. and Chr. Hansen have announced a five-year extension of their collaboration to develop and commercialize natural solutions for the agricultural industry.

Africa/Middle East

Bayer Closes Monsanto Acquisition

Bayer successfully completed the acquisition of Monsanto on Thursday. Shares in the U.S. company will no longer be traded on

Africa/Middle East

Bayer Plans Closing of Monsanto Acquisition on June 7

Bayer plans to complete the acquisition of Monsanto on June 7, following the receipt of all required approvals from regulatory

Valagro-Prem-Warrior
Asia

Italy’s Valagro Seeks Expansion in India

Valagro, the Italy-based biostimulants and specialty nutrients company, is exploring partnerships and acquisitions in India as it looks to expand its footprint in the country.

Biopesticides

Tradecorp Acquires Spain’s Idai Nature

Idai Nature is currently present in 35 countries and has posted annual growth of more than 30% in recent years. The company’s consolidated revenues amount to 16 million euros.

Americas

Major GNSS Project to Boost Potential for ‘Satellite’ Farming in Brazil

The University of Nottingham is working with Brazilian and EU partners to solve atmospheric interference problems that hamper satellite-based positioning

Agrichemicals

China Plant Shutdowns Hurt Helm Results

The company said its Crop Protection business was faced with markets exhibiting weak growth momentum overall in 2017.

Agrichemicals

Bayer: Disappointing Verdict Requires In-Depth Analysis

Bayer will assess the verdict’s consequences and potential legal options.

Agrichemicals

EU Court Backs Ban on Three Neonicotinoids

General Court of the European Union said it "confirms the validity of the restrictions introduced at EU level in 2013 clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid because of the risks those substances pose to bees."

Europe

The Spanish Distribution Chain for Agricultural Inputs

Spain has about 50 major companies that are importing or formulating solutions for growers, says Ana Santillana, Associate Director of

Europe

The Crop Protection Product and Plant Health Markets of Italy and Spain

The crop protection and biological products markets of Spain and Italy are critical to ensuring the rest of Europe has

Latest News

Americas

CropLife America Names Corteva’s Wasson as Chair

Wasson will hold the position for two years and use her diverse background to help guide the association, working with newly hired President and CEO Chris Novak.

Events

Agricultural Robotics Take Center Stage at FIRA 2018

The future of agricultural innovation will continue to rely heavily on collaboration and exchange of ideas among all industry players.

Agrichemicals

What to Do If You Have Products Subject to New U.S. Tariffs

The new retaliation lists hit almost every product that the Chinese import from the U.S.

Industry News

China: We’ll Retaliate Against New U.S. Tariffs

China said on Tuesday that it had no choice but to retaliate against new U.S. trade tariffs, raising the risk

Plant Health

Soil Holds the Secret to Mitigating Climate Change

Food production doesn’t have to be a victim of climate change. New research from Michigan State University suggests that crop