Last call for EU-wide impact assessment

In this week's special update on the progress of the EU's proposals to toughen up on pesticides restrictions, we outline in detail the findings of the Pesticides Safety Directorate's (PSD's) revised assessment alongside commentaries by scientists and technical advisers on the latest developments.

As the PSD's assessment of the latest amendments from the European Parliament's Environment Committee to the proposals makes clear, while the number of chemicals that stand to be lost is much reduced, serious challenges over the production of horticultural crops for some sectors remains.

As the PSD argues: "It is clear that it is not simply the percentage or absolute numbers of substances that might be lost which is the most important factor, but the particular substances concerned."

But the PSD also notes that interpreting exactly what the changes mean for horticulture remains very difficult due to the ongoing lack of clarity over the definition of key criteria.

This issue was highlighted by Rothamsted Research scientist Ian Denholm, who stressed his concern in a petition to Downing Street that, if passed, the plans would encourage increased resistance to approved products. He said: "No one can make an accurate estimate of what may go because at the moment some of the criteria are still poorly defined." Which makes the call for a thorough EU-wide impact assessment more urgent than ever.

At the time of writing, attempts to reach a compromise between the common position of the European Commission and Council and the more stringent European Parliament amendments were set to continue ahead of the full European Parliament vote in mid-January. But even if a positive compromise were to be reached, an impact assessment remains critical for the industry.

There is still time for horticulture professionals to be heard. So if you haven't done it already, write now to your MEP asking them to support a Europe-wide impact assessment.

Finally, to all our readers, we wish you a peaceful and restful Christmas. And while HW won't be back until 9 January, don't forget that we'll be keeping you in touch with the latest news online throughout the holiday period at

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