EU pesticide policy is in danger of being over politicised as “growing populist” calls seeks to ban or phase out all agrochemicals.

Mairead McGuinness MEP said scientific rigour must be to the fore rather than taking place to opinion.

Her comments come ahead of a vote on Wednesday 16 January in Strasbourg on a report which outlines the position of the European Parliament on pesticide policy.


The report covers a number of areas, including increased transparency in the approval system for agrochemicals and calling for a clamp down on fake and illegal pesticides entering the EU.

McGuinness said, despite the significant scientific knowledge in Ireland and the wider EU on plant protection products, there were calls for their ban without thinking possible consequences.


She said: “Recently, the debate has focused on individual plant protection products, such as glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up, a commonly used weed killer.

“We need to give consideration to the future of food production and how plant protection products fit into a sustainable, environmentally friendly system, rather than starting from the position that the use of PPPs carry huge risks and that they can be done without.”


One area up for discussion is the banning of products for desiccation. Such a proposal would have major consequences for the Irish tillage industry if adopted.

"Desiccation of crops is sometimes necessary in Ireland. This report fails to take into account our temperate climate and wet summers, which require the use of plant protection products as a desiccant,” McGuinness said.

Tighter rules

She highlighted that the EU countries were continuing to tighten rules on pesticide use in line with recommendations and research from EU bodies.

“Last year, the EU banned the outdoor use of certain insecticides – neonicotinoids – as a result of a study from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) showing that these agrochemicals represent a risk to wild pollinators and honey bees.

"The EU's authorisation procedure for plant protection products is one of the most stringent in the world," McGuinness concluded.

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