Dutch farmers caught in pesticide legal vacuum

Parliamentary environment committee curtails summer holiday to update pesticide legislation

The Dutch environment ministry has been forced to prohibit the use of several crop protection agents that it initially authorised in November 1999. Last November, the ministry deemed eleven pesticides as essential and granted temporary authorisation for their use. But two environmental NGOs objected and last month won a legal battle to end the use of the pesticides until the Dutch parliament has amended the country's pesticides legislation to include them. As a result, the parliament's agricultural committee is being recalled from its summer recess for an emergency session on Wednesday.

In a letter dated 4 August the environment minister told parliament that the only option left was to fast-track amendment of the pesticides act. Until the act is updated, farmers using the pesticides are technically doing so illegally. The Dutch parliament began the process of updating the law in April and was due to resume its work at the end of the month. Instead, it will begin again on Wednesday.

The eleven pesticides in question are carbonaryl, chloropyrifos, fenbutatin oxide, penconazole, primiphos-methyl, simazine, carbofuran, propachlor, chloridazon, dichlorvos and parathion-ethyl.

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