The health and safety of consumers and pesticide users remains our industry’s highest priority. This is true wherever pesticides are made, wherever they are used and wherever the food produced is eaten. National regulators decide which pesticides can be used on their territory.
Some pesticides are not authorized where they are made but have important uses in other countries to protect crops from highly damaging diseases and pests including locusts and Fall Army Worm.
Contrary to recent suggestions, there is no European export “loophole”: these exports comply with the strict requirements of strict EU chemical regulation aligned with the UN Rotterdam Convention on exports.
Read CropLife International’s industry statement on pesticide exports from Europe and keep reading to learn more about how the plant science industry makes health and safety its highest priority for exports.
Health and safety – our highest priority for exports
CropLife International and its members have a long-standing commitment to and experience in managing products throughout their lifecycle. This includes managing the safety of products which are manufactured then exported.
Our members only supply products that are registered for use by national regulatory authorities. These authorities make decisions about the products which should be available to farmers based on the local situation.
Regulatory authorities require dozens of complex tests to register a pesticide, and safety studies following strict procedures and protocols. Where regulation is less developed, CropLife International members support its introduction based on the FAO/WHO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.
Our members take extensive action to reduce the risks associated with pesticide use and ensure people take the right precautions. Risk mitigation measures include limiting sale of the product only to licensed, trained applicators, recommending the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training about safe use.
CropLife International and its member companies train large numbers of farmers and other people around the world about the safe use of their products. Together, we trained 23 million people in the safe use of pesticides in 2018. Face to face training is being supplemented with information over radio, television, SMS text messages and the internet. The CropLife network has been running a PPE project in India since 2018 which has provided training for farmers, spray service providers and others, and has made PPE kits available.
CropLife International and its member companies engage actively with major international stakeholders including the FAO, WHO, OECD, Codex Alimentarius and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) to develop arrangements which lead to better and safer use of pesticides.
Products appropriate to crops and growing conditions
Crop protection reduces the overall losses to weeds, diseases, insects and other pests by between 26 and 40%. The global trend in the application of crop science is towards use of lower quantities of more effective pesticides which pose less of a hazard.
Pesticides are just one option for pest control in modern farming. CropLife International members support an approach called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is defined by the FAO and which broadly involves farmers considering all available control options and other measures to protect crops. Our members provide IPM training to farmers and developing IPM programs is part of their R&D investments.
There is no escaping that fact that crops and growing conditions vary widely around the world. Differences in crops, pests and growing conditions mean different pesticides are needed for different circumstances. Many lower and middle income countries have tropical climates where farmland is under particular pressure from pests that need to be treated with strong pesticides.
Some significant diseases and pests are totally or mainly present in lower and middle income countries including: locusts, Fall Army Worm, Asian Soybean Rust (Asia), Turnip Mosaic Virus (a particular problem in Kenya), Citrus Black Spot and Citrus Greening (causing serious damage to the citrus sector in various parts of the world), Swollen Shoot Virus (affecting cocoa in Africa), Sigatoka negra and Panama disease affecting bananas.
These diseases and pests can be treated effectively with products which are authorized for use in various countries, but are not authorized in Europe.
Export arrangements – lawful and strictly regulated
CropLife International members produce high-quality crop protection products in the European Union and comply with the high safety and environmental standards and regulations which are in place. This is also the case when products are produced solely for export and are not authorised for use in the EU.
One pesticide which is not registered in the EU but is exported from the EU to LMICs where it is registered is Sumitomo Chemical’s Sumithion (better known as “Fenitrothion” at the UN level). It was first registered in Japan in 1961, has been used for locust control for more than half a century and is very effective against locusts. Sumithion and/or end use products containing it are registered in Japan, South Korea, Australia and other countries where it is required. It is no longer registered in the EU.
Currently, Sumitomo Chemical manufactures the Sumithion active ingredient in Japan and exports it to other countries, including to Europe. The company formulates Sumithion into the end-use product in Europe and exports it to countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. FAO is currently tender sourcing Sumithion for local use to combat the locust infestations in Africa.
There is no export “loophole” for exports of products like Sumithion; there is strict regulation in place. The products are manufactured to high standards in Europe then exported lawfully subject to the strict requirements of EU chemicals regulation (the EU Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation) which incorporates the requirements of the UN Rotterdam Convention. The chemical exports are reported to national regulators in Europe. Information is provided to importing countries and in some cases they must consent to the import.
CropLife International and our members do not believe that a ban on exports of pesticides from Europe on the grounds they are not authorized in the EU would help ensure the right pesticides remain available to farmers in lower- and middle-income countries. These governments and farmers rely on imported pesticides to protect their agricultural economies. Following established manufacturing and export regulations protects farmers, consumers and the environment, and as well as our members commitment to stewardship and life cycle management of their products.