Intro to the issue
Environmental safety is of paramount importance when pesticides or GMOs are undergoing the approval process.
Firstly before any technology, any solution such as pesticides, biopesticides or genetically modified plants are available on the market they need to undergo strict evaluation by authorities. This is essential in order to ensure that they have no unacceptable effects on the environment.
Secondly what we do in agriculture has a measurable impact on the organisms in the growing areas and the surrounding ecosystems. As a result we’re tirelesly working to find ways to minimize and even reverse agriculture’s impact. We need to remember that productive agriculture needs a healthy environment and rich biodiversity depends on good agricultural management practices.
Why this is a priority for us?
Each company has its own unique research strategy to find potentially suitable, safe new products. Did you know that our industry spends €40 every minute for 11 years to develop a single marketable technology? That’s what our industry is committed doing in order to provide a single cutting edge product for farmers.
Before they reach the market – they go through a thorough evaluation process.
The risk assessment of active substances evaluates whether, when used correctly, these substances are likely to have any direct or indirect harmful effects on human or animal health – for example, through drinking water, food or feed – or on groundwater quality. In addition, the environmental risk assessment aims to evaluate the potential impact on non-target organisms. The risk assessment of GM plants thoroughly evaluates potential risks of GM cultivation or imports to human health and the environment.
What are we doing about it
Apart of respective companies research and proactive contributions, CropLife Europe is conducting specific projects aiming at providing high quality data to inform risk assessment updates.
For example, a series of open points were listed by EFSA regarding the pollinator risk assessment. CropLife Europe coordinated the collation of existing datasets. We produced dedicated analysis on possible exposure routes for pollinators (guttation, flowering weeds, succeeding crops) or sensitivity of bumble bees compared to honey bees.
Similarly, in the area of prediction of environmental concentrations in water. Our industry is supporting the developments and updates of the necessary IT tools in that area. We are conducting extensive testing of new beta versions and have provided data on IT issues to the authorities.
As from 2021, the content of technical dossiers for pesticides, biopesticide and genetically modified organisms will be made publicly available.
We see great potential with the Transparency Regulation:
- A better general understanding of risks in matters of food safety;
- Open access to data can dispel suspicions about ‘industry hiding information’;
- Efficiencies in streamlining submissions and evaluations;
- An overall increase in standards in dossier quality.
This will gradually give access to data to the general public. More importantly however it will provide access to the scientific and regulatory communities. We believe such transparency will benefit the evaluation process and enhance the risk assessment approaches.