Farmers could be set to lose dozens of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides after the European Parliament voted to reject the Commission’s definition of endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals found in crop protection products, plastics and cosmetics. They can interfere with hormone systems at certain doses.
Environmental organisations claim they pose a risk to human health and there has been a long-running battle to regulate their use.
In July, farming groups expressed their anger as member states approved the Commission’s proposed definition of the chemicals, which would have allowed the EU to ban a number of crop protection products.
But environmental groups claimed the definition would have made it too difficult to remove the chemicals from sale, and Green Parties in the European Parliament pushed for a change to the rules which culminated in this week’s vote.
Crop Protection Association chief executive Sarah Mukherjee said: “We have been clear in our opposition to these criteria since the outset.
“They were in no way suitable for regulatory decision-making and failed to identify substances of genuine concern.
“These criteria would have meant products being removed from use without any demonstrable benefit to the protection of human health or the environment.”
Senior plant health adviser at the NFU Emma Hamer echoed Ms Mukherjee’s concerns.
“It would appear the Commission will revert to interim criteria, which is not a long-term solution”, she added.
“It would be great if we could go back to the drawing board and develop risk-based criteria which identify any chemicals which pose a real threat and take into account potency, mitigation measures and exposure rather than identifying potential hazards.”
But Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, said the European Parliament had come together to reject the ‘intense lobbying efforts of the powerful chemical industry’.
MEPs will have to be consulted when the next definition is drawn up.
“The flawed criteria proposed by the Commission would have allowed our environment and our bodies to continue to be contaminated by these harmful chemicals”, Mr Taylor added.
EU Commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said he ‘regretted’ the vote and would ‘reflect on next steps to take’.