Doubts about pesticide approval 2

Doubts about pesticide approval

The decision is not an isolated case. Since 2005, the regulatory authorities in Switzerland have removed 148 active substances from the market. Since 2011, they have audited 814 products, of which 533 have adapted the conditions of use, and in 1984 they have issued a ban, almost every fourth product.

In the authorization process, the precautionary principle does not work properly.

For the Bundesrat, these figures show that the authorities "act proactively and, in turn, take the initiative if necessary". However, environmental organizations come to a different conclusion: in the authorization process, the precautionary principle does not work properly, otherwise the authorities would never give the green light to the substances in question.

In the Parliament so far, only green forces have shared criticisms of environmental organizations. Now, however, the alliance outside the green camp identifies minimal potential for improvements in the approval process. The bourgeois-dominated National Council's Economic Commission this week tasked the federal administration with producing a report to optimize the pesticide approval process. "This is with a view to better enforcing the precautionary principle," the complaint states. The author of the attack is Regula Rytz.

Double role office

Possible weaknesses in the procedure are known no later than 2016. The Interface consulting firm then conducted an investigation on behalf of the environmental association. The authors critically evaluate the dual role of BLW in the department of Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin (SVP). On the one hand, the office is the contact point for applicants, on the other, it decides on admission.

The Federal Environment Office (Bafu), on the other hand, as an environmental authority, is solely responsible for identifying and classifying environmental hazards. In recognition, Bafu is "light in weight," the authors conclude. They also recommend increasing transparency, for example, consistently making licensing decisions, along with data based on them.

The BLW is pursuing a program of targeted testing of plant protection products.

For years, pest control opponents have accused FOAG of putting the interests of agrochemicals and peasants above all else – a criticism that the BLW categorically rejects. The bureau said last summer that it had implemented a targeted review program for plant protection products since 2011. The goal is to re-evaluate based on new scientific findings.

Whether the federal administration will also identify weaknesses in the licensing process is unclear. Green President Rytz at least considers the Economic Commission's mission a milestone victory: "It's finally getting things started."