Transitioning from EU to UK pesticide regime threatens to undermine standards

2019-02-22T14:30:03+00:00February 22nd, 2019|

by Josie Cohen (Head of Policy and Campaigns)

PAN UK continues to work intensely on Brexit to make sure our pesticide standards aren’t weakened as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Over the past two weeks, our focus has been on what are called ‘Statutory Instruments’ (SIs). These are legal instruments designed to ensure that EU laws still work properly when they are brought over into UK law. There are more than 600 SIs currently being rushed through parliament so that, if we leave the EU without a deal at the end of March, our regulations are able to function properly.

The government has promised that the SIs contain no meaningful policy changes and are simply technical instruments required to fix bits of EU laws that will no longer apply, e.g. replacing the name of an EU body with its UK equivalent or removing a requirement to collaborate with other Members States. However, civil society is finding that buried deep within these long and technical legal documents (some of them run to hundreds of pages) there are changes that will undermine the protections the UK has enjoyed as an EU Member State, including in crucial areas such as the environment and human rights.

PAN UK has been helping Lords and MPs scrutinise the two main pesticide related SIs. We provided a detailed briefing outlining PAN UK’s key concerns, which is summarised below. You can also check out the clip of the Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Dr David Drew) thanking PAN UK for our work and beginning his questioning of the government.

Despite their inadequacies, there was unfortunately never any chance of stopping the SIs from passing but it remains crucial that these concerns are noted on the parliamentary record so we can refer back to them if/when we end up filling in the details of the standalone pesticide regime the UK government wants to create post-Brexit.

And now it’s on to the next Brexit battle to ensure that whatever new system we create is fit for purpose in terms of protecting human health and the environment from the harmful impacts of pesticides.

PAN UK briefing for parliamentarians and policy makers

The stated aim of these two Statutory Instruments is to replace all pesticide-related EU processes with national processes and build additional national capacity to operate a standalone UK regime. The two SI’s are as follows:

* Plant Protection Products (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (‘PPP SI’ – concerns the process around authorising active substances)

* Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (‘MRL SI’ – concerns the setting of levels of pesticide residue that is permitted to be detected in food)

Therefore, this briefing sets out PAN UK’s key concerns regarding both SIs, from the perspective of the protections they will offer for human health and the natural environment. The following specific concerns are outlined in this document:

  1. Loss of oversight, checks and balances and a significant consolidation of power
  2. Weakening of requirement to obtain independent scientific advice
  3. Weakening of other standards
  4. Important parts of regime left unclear or detail to be filled in later through guidelines
  5. Loss of capacity and lack of investment in standalone regime

Read the full briefing here.