Rethink urged for EU pesticide residue rules

Multi-stakeholder group recommends major overhaul to replace "cumbersome" laws

EU rules on setting maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in foodstuffs should be comprehensively overhauled and streamlined, a multi-stakeholder expert group has told the European Commission. EU officials are believed to be enthusiastic about the panel's recommendations, which are designed to improve the working of the bloc's internal market.

EU pesticide residue rules have grown into a tangled web of legislation since a first directive setting MRLs for fruit and vegetables was agreed in 1976. This was followed by two 1986 directives setting MRLs for cereals and foodstuffs of animal origin. A further directive passed in 1990 introduced for the first time mandatory rather than optional MRLs. All four directives have been modified numerous times.

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