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05 Jun 2018

SAM publishes Opinion on EU authorisation process of plant protection products

The European Commission’s (EC's) Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) Group of Chief Scientific Advisors has published a new independent scientific Opinion on the EU’s authorisation processes of Plant Protection Products (PPPs).

At the request of Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, the Scientific Advisors examined the question: "Could the current EU dual system for approval and authorisation of plant protection products be rendered more effective, efficient and transparent, and if so, how could this be achieved?" In this dual system, the main ingredient of a PPP (the ‘active substance’) is scientifically assessed at EU level, while PPP products as a whole (which include other ingredients) are assessed and authorised for sale at the level of one or more Member States.

The recommendations in the opinion are informed by an accompanying Evidence Review Report titled Improving authorisation processes for plant protection products in Europe: a scientific perspective on the assessment of potential risks to human health produced by the SAPEA (Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies) consortium. The report examines the methods and procedures for assessing potential harmful effects on human health from the use of Plant Protection Products (PPPs), and the ways in which the current authorisation processes could be improved from a scientific perspective. The Evidence Review Report makes suggestions for further improvement in the scientific data that underpin risk assessments, the methods by which such data are analysed, and the ways in which assessment procedures are organised and tasks are allocated.

Based on the Evidence Review Report, the SAM Opinion's recommendations address :

  • How legislation can balance legitimate aspirations for ‘no harm’ with the goal of improving agricultural production while using PPP. The scientific advisors emphasise the importance of clearly communicating that all scientific assessments contain some degree of uncertainty, that zero risk is impossible to ensure, and that even non-use confers risk;
  • How to make the current dual system more effective and efficient, in particular related to who does what, their capacity to do so, how data are shared and how divergent opinions can be addressed; and
  • How to keep abreast of new science: new tools; new types of PPPs; and the ability to assess mixtures, aggregate exposure, and landscape-scale environmental effects.

The advisors also call for a dialogue on an EU-wide, shared vision of how citizens want their food to be produced, including the role of PPPs, while endorsing the EU’s efforts to achieve a more sustainable use of pesticides.

On 7 June, the Scientific Advisors will present this opinion to the European Parliament during a hearing of the special committee on authorisation procedures for pesticides in the European Union (PEST).

For more information:

EC DG Research & Innovation News

SAM - News

ALLEA - News

SAM Opinion



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