Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Pesticide Safety Response to the EU Regulatory Challenge

New EU regulations for pesticides have sparked much controversy. There is a large body of opinion that the proposals will render European agriculture nearly impossible. Here is one link to support such a view:

I am nonplussed by the rejection of risk assessment as a guide for the approval of pesticide molecules. How can we manage pests if intrinsic CMR is held against established pesticides?

The die is nearly cast. EU Ministers will vote on the proposed new rules in less than a week from today. Can China and India do more than merely watch from the side-lines? I believe that a pro-active pesticide safety response is appropriate. Here is a list of elements that can meet public concerns about pesticides:

1. Bundling of protective gear with pesticide packs to make safe use a practical norm.
2. Investment in provisions for skilled manpower for safe pesticide application.
3. Benchmarking with cellular telecommunications and Internet banking to build online databases of safe pesticide use.
4. Remediation systems that address collateral and off-target pesticide effects. 
5. Assurances for urban consumers with respect to food safety from dangerous pesticide residues.

These five steps imply a new template for the way in which a pesticide business is conducted. It is a hard bullet to bite, but it is better than threats to ban large swathes of pesticides on which we depend for food security, public health, and our livelihoods.

Stewardship is an easy route to making the new world of pesticide safety a reality. This function has to be invited to the vanguard of the world business. It requires top-management commitment. Use it as a life-raft, rather than view it as an impediment.

I invite your comments. Please post below. It is not essential to disclose your identity.

No comments: