Clear desire for move to risk-based approach to pesticide regulation heard at British Crop Protection Council event

The UK Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) heard a "clear desire to move from hazard-based regulation to a risk-based approach" on pesticide regulation at the British Crop Protection Council's (BCPC) congress (EU Regulatory Affairs) last month.

In an interactive workshop, entitled "What are the opportunities and risks for pesticide regulation in the UK following the EU referendum?" CRD used the session to seek opinions from the range of stakeholders who attended.

Retention of CRD’s communication and expertise was "strongly supported" to keep a UK voice and role in EU and OECD on Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) and import tolerances and guidance development, with Standing Committee participation.

But there was a "clear desire to move from hazard-based regulation to a risk-based approach, strongly science-based and proportionate, whilst maintaining or improving current human and environmental safety standards and taking account of socio-economic benefits.  We should remove the Candidates for Substitution and Comparative Assessment requirements – instead, we should make greater use of the ‘risk envelope’ approach and risk mitigation." 

Attendees wanted faster, pragmatic decision-making, with simple, transparent processes and a maximum two years to a registration/re-registration – with reasonable predictability of outcomes. This would be helped by minimising political interference and ever-changing goalposts, said BCPC.

Participants also wanted to stop unnecessary expiry of authorisations and routine reviews and introduce a US EPA-style data ‘call in’ system.

Delegates said: "We should simplify or remove efficacy requirements, and onerous assessments for minor uses and low risk products including bio-pesticides – and have an emergency approvals/essential uses system for unforeseen problems."

Uniform principles for evaluation, tiered risk assessments, equipment testing and controls on use were strongly supported, as was monitoring (to ensure that products are behaving as predicted in the risk assessment and/or being used properly).

Delegates added: "We should maintain current data protection rules and improve enforcement - such as anti-counterfeiting."

Finally, the attendees were unanimous that they should seek pragmatic harmonisation with the rest of the EU - and with other global authorities - to enable mutual recognition.

Delegates said: "We should still focus on UK’s need to trade within the EU, and do nothing to disadvantage our industry in comparison to EU competitors - but the new UK regime also needs to facilitate sales globally. It was strongly proposed that any new UK system should be independent of EFSA."

Jayne Wilder of CRD’s operational policy team said: "‘It is really valuable to hear the range of views expressed by our stakeholders. Contributions from events such as this workshop help us to listen to and understand the aspirations of all. This has obvious benefits in supporting us to deliver the regulatory regime for Plant Protection Products in an effective way."

Meanwhile, BCPC new handbook Field Scale Spraying details the decisions and background needs for spraying operations.

Revised by sprayer specialist Dr Paul Miller, the handbook gives best practice advice in line with current regulations. It includes sections on the latest product labels, nozzle codes and risk assessments (LERAPs), as well as information on air induction and twin fluid nozzles.

Miller said: "At the end of the day safe and effective spraying comes down to the skill and expertise of the sprayer operator. Whether you are new to spraying or an old hand, this new handbook provides all the practical guidance needed for field spraying operations with advice on best practice, risk assessment, buffer zones, sprayer decontamination and maintenance."

This user handbook, which is supported by the Voluntary Initiative, costs £12.

BCPC say there are eight good reasons why spray operators, farmers and advisors need to make every spray droplet count.

  • Key changes to spraying legislation (e.g. ending of grandfather rights).
  • All sprayer operators to hold PA1 + PA2 certificates of competence
  • Compulsory testing of application equipment
  • Reduced availability of active ingredients
  • Growing resistance to pesticides
  • Increasing pressure on margins
  • Growing attention on the environment
  • Uncertainty over what Brexit may hold for cross compliance:

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