Bezwaar­motie tegen de maatregel RPS D089865 - tot wijziging van de bijlagen II en V bij Veror­dening (EG) nr. 396/2005 van het Europees Parlement en de Raad wat betreft de maxi­mum­ge­halten aan residuen van fipronil in of op bepaalde producten

15 november 2023

Draft motion for a resolution to the following delegated measure: RPS D089865 – amending Annexes II and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for fipronil in or on certain products.

Dear Chair,
Dear ENVI Secretariat,

We; Anja Hazekamp, Maria Arena, Michal Wiezik and Jutta Paulus, hereby object to the following delegated measure:RPS D089865 – amending Annexes II and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for fipronil in or on certain products

In this draft Commission Regulation, the Commission is proposing to double the maximum residue limits for sugar cane, in order to enable the use of fipronil in Brazil on this crop. And because sugar cane is fed to animals, the Commission also proposes to raise the MRLs for bovine fat, sheep fat and goat fat, to up to six times the current level. The proposed import tolerances were applied for by the pesticide company BASF, and will facilitate the exports of sugar cane residues to feed to European livestock, and facilitate the exports of Brazilian meat.

We object to these MRLs as they do not meet the aim and safety criteria of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 February 2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin. The draft Commission regulation goes against the basic act which states that residues should not be present at levels presenting an unacceptable risk to humans and, where relevant, to animals. The draft Commission Regulation is also not in line with the general principles laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, the General Food Law, which states in Article 5(1) that food law shall pursue one or more of the general objectives of a high level of protection of human life and health and the protection of consumers’ interests, including fair practices in food trade, taking into account, where appropriate, the protection of animal health and welfare, plant health and the environment.

Fipronil is not allowed for use in the European Union. Already in 2013, the conditions for approval were amended, and the use of most seed treatments with pesticides containing fipronil was prohibited because of the high acute risks for bees. Since 2017, no use of fipronil as active ingredient of pesticides has been allowed in the European Union, and the MRL has accordingly been set at 0.005 mg/kg, the LOQ.

The decline of pollinators is one of the main threats to biodiversity and food security. The Commission promised in its Farm to Fork Strategy that “The EU will support the global transition to sustainable agri-food systems, in line with the objectives of this strategy and the SDGs”, and that “The EU can play a key role in setting global standards with this strategy.” Effectively, the Commission proposed in 2022 for the two neonicotinoids that pose a high risk to pollinators, to lower the MRLs to the lowest level that can be measured with the latest technologies. Thereby, imported products are no longer able to contain residues of clothianidin and thiamethoxam. As fipronil presents equally high risks to bees, it should be subject to the same reasoning and rules.

The Acceptable daily intake (ADI) set for fipronil is low (0.0002 mg/kg body weight (bw) per day). In their reasoned opinion for this import tolerance request, the EFSA only considered in their short-term exposure assessment the residues in sugar canes and in commodities of animal origin for which the modification of the existing EU MRL would be needed: bovine, sheep and goat fat. However, fipronil is a highly effective insecticide, which is used in large quantities worldwide and is very likely to end up on our plates also via other imported food and feed. Also, in 2017 the widespread contamination of billions of eggs due to illegal use of fipronil in Europe was uncovered, which in certain cases could have led to exceedances of the ADI in children according to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

The Commission must protect the environment and the European citizens on the basis of the available scientific information, using the obligation and the legal possibilities that Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 and Regulation (EC) 178/2002 give the Commission to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment.

The proposed MRLs are not securing a high level of protection for bees and other pollinators in Brazil, and are not protecting the health of citizens in Europe. We find this unacceptable and are of the opinion that the draft Commission Regulation should be withdrawn and that no import tolerances should be allowed.

Kind regards,

Anja Hazekamp,
Maria Arena,
Michal Wiezik,
Jutta Paulus