Submitted by Janet Eaton on Fri, 2013-11-22 14:13
Thursday, November 21, 2013 12:47 PM. By Jenny Hopkinson 11/21/13 12:46 PM EST
More than 40 percent of U.S. agricultural exports – not to mention the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations – could be at risk if the European Union moves forward with proposed changes to its pesticide rules, according to a report released today by CropLife America.
The EU is currently undergoing changes that, if finalized, could allow for almost no safe level of certain pesticides on products sold in the member countries.
Particularly problematic are possible limits on chemicals thought to have endocrine disrupting effects, which interfere with the hormone system, the U.S. pesticide group warns. The European Crop Protection Association has identified 37 substances that would be subject to regulation if the changes are finalized – many of which are approved by the EPA for use in the United States, CropLife notes.
CropLife "is concerned by the findings of this report and the potential impacts a hazard-based precautionary regulation may have on agricultural trade between the U.S. and EU," Jay Vroom, CropLife's president and CEO, says in a statement announcing the release of his group's report, "Potential Trade Effects on U.S. Agricultural Exports of European Union Regulations on Endocrine Disruptors," which was prepared for the group by DTB Associates LLP.
"As one of the main objectives of TTIP is to seek regulatory convergence, differing regulatory frameworks for crop protection products present serious economic and trade impacts," Vroom adds. "While TTIP works to open up trade between the U.S. and the EU, Regulation 1107/2009 [the title of the EU’s proposed change] could shut it down."
The regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals has long stumped officials on both sides of the Atlantic.
While safe levels of pesticides are normally developed using a risk-based model that finds a threshold for an unsafe amount of exposure, endocrine disruptors effect the hormone system at very low doses, thus upending that traditional model.
The EPA has been working on developing a screening process for such chemicals since the passage of amendments to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and Safe Drinking Water Act in 1996 that defined the universe of chemicals that would need to undergo evaluation in the agency's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. However, to date, EPA has yet to finish review of the first set of 67 pesticide ingredients to go through the system.
Meanwhile, the EU Directorate for the Environment – Europe's version of the EPA – has decided to take a more precautionary approach, and is proposing to set strict maximum residue levels or withdraw approval altogether, for certain categories of pesticides – among them, endocrine disruptors.
"Under this policy the accepted science-based risk assessment process found in international standards and guidelines would not be followed," according to the report. "Rather, regulatory policy would be based on the existence of a hazard, irrespective of exposure to the hazard, the risk of the hazard to human health or whether safe uses can be identified. Products would be removed from the market, and maximum residue levels in commodities produced with active crop protection substances identified under this categorization system could either be withdrawn entirely or set at a default level of 0.01 ppm."
CropLife's report warns that the proposed EU regulation would cause losses of: $1.7 billion for U.S. producers in fruit and nut exports; $1.5 billion for producers of oil seeds and ground nuts; $585 million for grain producers; $183 million for producers of vegetables; and $23 million for coffee and tea producers. Loss of exports of processed foods due to the proposed regulatory changes would cost the U.S. an additional $744 million, the report suggests.
CropLife has raised concerns before about the EU's pending pesticide regulation.
The trade association sent a letter Nov. 13 to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman warning "that such domestic EU regulation, if finalized and implemented, can imperil the TTIP."
"The proposed EU approach precludes a science-based risk assessment, and runs counter to the World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, and the risk-based regulation of pesticides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," the pesticide group warned.
What's more, CropLife argued, while the EU proposal has yet to be approved, it is under serious consideration by officials there. "For the EU to impose a major, new barrier to U.S. exports while TTIP negotiations are in progress would not augur well for those negotiations. This suggests an excellent opportunity for a pilot project to explore how to give meaning to the TTIP objective of regulatory convergence."
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