Trade impact of pesticide residues

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Grain traders, crushers and compound feed manufacturers engage in constructive dialogue aimed at mitigating impacts on trade of the ongoing regulatory transition to lower maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in commodities.

During a workshop held in Brussels on the Trade Impact of Pesticide Residues, which brought together interested stakeholders across grain commodity supply chains and governmental bodies from the EU and worldwide, COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC invited various experts to analyse the problem and discuss solutions to prevent major supply disruptions.

COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC recalled their commitment to ensure food and feed safety, in a context where EU society supports lower pesticide use and EU authorities are implementing this desire by making the use of plant protection products (PPPs) subject to stricter authorization rules, with a view to strengthen consumer, health and environmental protection.

At the same time, the right of third countries to use a different, risk-based approach for their pesticides’ legislation has been fully recognized. Business operators and authorities have to accommodate the fact that there is no immediate prospect of alignment between the EU and the rest of the world with regard to the assessment of active substances used in plant protection products, even if this remains highly desirable.

In the absence of such alignment, there is need for sufficient predictability and lead-in time for businesses, allowing the supply chain to continue operating. Workable solutions have to be found in the case where the systematic and near-immediate lowering of existing maximum levels would leave business operators exposed to non-compliance and without any possibility for finding operational solutions for the supply chain.

It needs to be recognized as well that efficient farming and integrated food systems need tools for securing quality, safety and volumes of agricultural products, as well as reducing food losses. To date, this seems impossible to achieve without developing alternative practices and less problematic plant protection products.

At a moment when the new EU policy approach for plant protection products is being implemented in Europe, ways need to be found to enhance understanding and convergence on how MRLs should be managed for products that are derived from commodities to which MRLs apply, such as feed materials. The workshop gave about 130 players in the value chain the opportunity to engage openly and share views on the options that would help manage or mitigate the impact on their activities.