GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States and 15 other countries on Thursday launched a broad round of criticism of the European Union, saying its “risk-based” approach to regulating pesticides and other “essential tools Used by farmers harmed livelihoods around the world.
Their statement, submitted to the World Trade Organization, said the EU’s approach created great uncertainty and diverged from science-based risk assessments, creating disruptions that threatened to escalate significantly in coming years.
They called on the EU to reassess its approach to product approvals, to use internationally accepted methods to set tolerance levels for potentially harmful ingredients and to stop âunnecessarily and inappropriatelyâ restricting trade.
The declaration was supported by Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Uruguay.
They said farmers need to be able to access “a full range of safe tools and technologies” in order to meet the challenge of producing more food.
âYet the choice of safe tools by our farmers is increasingly compromised by regulatory barriers that are not based on internationally recognized risk analysis principles and do not take into account other approaches to achieve the regulatory objectives, âthey said.
“This is already having a substantial negative impact on the production and trade of safe food and agricultural products, an impact which is likely to increase in the future.”
The statement, sent for debate at the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods later this month, said the EU had effectively banned certain substances that other WTO members considered safe.
“By implementing these measures, it appears that the EU is unilaterally trying to impose its own national regulatory approach on its trading partners,” they said.
Despite repeated requests to the WTO over the past four years, the EU had failed to explain what level of protection it was seeking or what risks it was trying to mitigate, and it had ignored comments on the draft regulations, they declared.
The EU suggested that farmers could find “alternatives” to comply with EU rules, but such demands ring hollow, the statement said, as many farmers lacked economically viable options, with a disproportionate effect on millions of families dependent on agriculture in developing economies and least developed countries.
Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Gareth Jones