Transatlantic pesticide cooperation announced

Project to compare EU, US, regulatory systems could lead to shared risk assessment

The EU and USA are to cooperate on the testing of new pesticides in a bid to reduce the time and expense involved in approving new plant protection products for the market, it was announced today. Under a recently launched pilot project, a herbicide used in maize production will be reviewed in parallel by authorities on both sides of Atlantic to see whether procedures are close enough to be considered equivalent. If successful, the initiative could lead to more shared assessment of new pesticides.

Under the EU's 1991 plant protection products directive, the chemical ingredients of new pesticides must pass through a lengthy and detailed approval procedure, undertaken largely by a single member state. Products proposed for use on the US market undergo a similar procedure.

Under an agreement recently concluded, the herbicide Foramsulforon will be used as a "concrete test case" to identify the similarities and differences between the data evaluation and regulatory requirements of the EU and the US system. The deal was reached between Aventis, which developed the pesticide, the US authorities and Germany, which is responsible for assessing the product in the EU.

"If the experience proves to be a success, it may clear the way for improved cooperation in sharing the heavy burden of pesticides evaluation," the Commission said today. If successful, the cooperation will reduce the chances of trade disputes between the USA and the EU over such products. The initiative follows a similar one organised last year aiming to harmonise procedures involved in developing air quality legislation (ENDS Daily 3 December).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111.

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