EU policy and legislation on pesticides: Plant protection products and biocides

In-Depth Analysis 19-04-2017

Substances used to suppress, eradicate and prevent organisms that are considered harmful are grouped under the term ‘pesticide’. The term includes both plant protection products (used on plants in agriculture, horticulture, parks and gardens) and biocidal products (used in other applications, for example, as a disinfectant or to protect materials). Pesticides can be useful in a number of circumstances, for example, in overcoming diseases and increasing agricultural yields. However, they are not without their disadvantages – above all, their environmental impact, the risks that they pose to human health and their effects on crop protection. European Union pesticide legislation is designed to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment and to improve the functioning of the internal market. Plant production products and biocides are subject to a dual approval process: active substances are approved at EU level and products are subsequently authorised predominantly at Member State level. Furthermore, standardised maximum levels are set for the residues of plant protection products in food, and a framework for action is focused on sustainable pesticide use. A number of aspects of European Union policy on pesticides can be considered as either opportunities or challenges, in particular, issues surrounding costs for the industry, the approval process, and sustainability. The Commission is currently assessing the legislation on plant protection products and their residues. The conclusions of that study are expected by the end of 2018.