The hypocrisy of banning certain plant pesticides in the EU only to import food from third countries treated with those products has been highlighted to the EU parliament.
Speaking in the EU parliament in Strasbourg yesterday, vice president Mairéad McGuinness said legislators must be wary of how they approach the subject.
She said: “We are not reassuring those who produce our food that we have them in mind when it comes to discussion and debates and legislation on plant protection products.”
She said that when MEPs talked of banning products without identifying what the alternatives were or what the consequences might be, it did not make them look like good legislators.
The specific issue of importing food into the EU where agrichemicals that are banned in the EU are used in their cultivation was raised.
An amendment addressing this issue was supported in the parliament and it asked that the approval process for products takes account of the double standard.
Focus was also placed on the inefficiencies that currently exist in EU legislation when it came to the approval of pesticide products.
McGuiness said: “Currently, member states can accept commercial products that have been approved in another member state with similar environmental conditions, but in practice this is not happening. Each member state is repeating the work and approval process due to a lack of trust between them.”
She said this was leading to a doubling up on work and delayed the approval of new agrichemicals and re-approval of existing ones. She added the increased pressure to reduce chemical use on crops sometimes lead to decisions being taken with full consideration or analysis of the consequences.
She fully acknowledged that if a product was found to have any negative consequences to humans, animals or the environment then it must be taken off the market.
She did however emphasise that farmers would need replacement products or management techniques in their place.
"Fast tracking of products that are considered to be low-risk is also called for as is further innovation in this area," McGuinness concluded.