Defra addresses secondary legislation drafting error over EU pesticides law

Defra is addressing a drafting error that led to accusations from an environmental campaign group that the government had gone back on its pledge not to weaken environmental law.

Secondary legislation published in March that carries over EU pesticides law onto the UK’s statute books omits key paragraphs that bar products with endocrine-disrupting properties from being approved by regulators, according to ENDS Report

"An active substance shall only be approved if…it is not considered to have endocrine disrupting properties that may cause adverse effects in humans, unless the exposure… is negligible," reads one omitted paragraph, which appeared in an EU regulation adopted in 2009.

A letter from the environmental campaign group CHEM Trust says the exclusion which was originally identified by researchers at the UK Trade Policy Observatory would permit "the approval of substances, safeners or synergists containing endocrine disrupting proprties that may cause adverse effects on non-target organisms and the wider environment" by omitting protections relating to the approval of endocrine-disrupting plant protection products.

DEFRA’s legislation also omits a paragraph in the EU regulation that extends the "negligible exposure" limit to the wider environment, representing a "significant weakening of the EU regime with potentially far-reaching consequences", the letter states.

A spokesperson indicated DEFRA is "promptly addressing" what they described as a "drafting error" in the relevant statutory instrument, ENDS Report says. 

The spokesperson added: "The UK’s high level of environmental protection will be maintained outside the EU whether we leave with or without a deal – including maintaining controls on endocrine disrupting chemicals."

The UK Trade Policy Observatory’s remarks can be found here.

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