Bijdrage mili­eu­com­missie over een bezwaar op grond van artikel 112 van het Reglement: de verlenging van de geldig­heidsduur voor de werkzame stof Chlo­ro­to­luron

16 november 2020

Anja Hazekamp (PvdD): Thank you Chair.

Chlorotoluron is an active substance that has been on the market since 2006. It is widely used for weed control in cereals crops and authorised in about 20 Member States. But since its approval in 2006, its effects on the environment and on human health have never been properly reassessed. Instead of a proper reassessment, as is prescribed in the legislation, the original authorisation has been extended time and time again. The only thing that has changed since 2006, is that chlorotoluron has been placed on the list of Candidates for Substitution, because it is considered to have endocrine-disrupting properties that may cause adverse effects in humans, and because it meets the criteria for it to be considered a persistent and toxic substance. Furthermore, chlorotoluron has a harmonised classification of very toxic to aquatic life, very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects and suspected of causing cancer (Carcinogenic 2). Also, it is considered to cause damage to the unborn child (Reprotoxic 2).

But still we are discussing today the fifth extension of this pesticide. I believe that these extensions of a substance that is known to cause harm to humans and the environmental goes against the precautionary principle and against the pesticide approval regulation which specifies that substances should only be included in plant protection products where it has been demonstrated that they present a clear benefit for plant protection and that they are not expected to have any harmful effect on human or animal health or any unacceptable effects on the environment. This substance clearly has those unacceptable effects. We have already objected to the previous extension of this same substance last year.

I know that the Commission will state that they have no choice but to extend the approval period, citing article 17 of the regulation, but I will point again to article 21 of that same regulation that provides that the Commission may review the approval of an active substance at any time, especially where, in the light of new scientific and technical knowledge, it considers that there are indications that the substance no longer satisfies the approval criteria.

I appreciate that the Commission is also very concerned that Member States are not respecting the deadlines set out in EU rules for completing the assessment procedures for the approval or renewal of active substances. Commissioner Kyriakides addressed this concern in May this year in a letter to Member States, including the rapporteur Member State for chlorotoluron, Bulgaria. The letter states that this situation, and I quote, “results in repeated, unjustified extensions of approvals, which are increasingly criticised by the European Parliament and some Member States as potentially unsafe substances and products can stay longer on the market. (…) This situation is unsustainable and immediate action must be taken to address it.”

I agree, this is quite right. I would like to know if there were any replies to the letters sent by the Commission, and how the Commission will further ensure that action is taken to remedy this situation of the unjustified and potentially dangerous extensions. And I hope my colleagues will support us once again for this objection to this extension of a potential endocrine disrupting chemical.

Thank you.

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