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Criticism of pesticide approval

There are no individual cases. Again and again, federal authorities have to remove pesticides from the market, as it turns out the substances are more dangerous than originally classified. Since 2005, they have done so with 148 active ingredients.

Accordingly, the report that went public yesterday has considerable explosive power. In conclusion, the pesticide approval process has significant drawbacks. This finding is not new; Environmental organizations have long been emphasizing. But now – and that makes the report politically piquant – it is independently confirmed. He is the author of the audit and consulting firm KPMG, which has conducted the assessment on behalf of various federal agencies, including the Federal Office for agriculture (BLW) and the Federal Environment Office (Bafu).

The report identifies various vulnerabilities. There is a particular focus on the BLW, which environmental organizations have accused for years of overburdening the interests of agrochemicals and farmers – a criticism that categorically dismisses the office in Guy Parmelin's (SVP) department. In any case, the BLW has a contentious role in the approval process. On the one hand, it is the contact person for the applicants, and on the other, it decides on the approval. According to a KPMG report, an appropriate office position does not have formal independence due to BLW affiliation, "it adversely affects its credibility." Also, in the process, "transparency requirements within government and the public would not be met".

Ten recommendations

The report also identifies the potential for enhancing the role of Bafu belonging to the Simonetta Sommaruga (SP) department. The office is involved in the "too strong" authorization process, has "no active role" in pesticide evaluation. In Germany, for example, this is different. There, the equivalent of Bafu, the Federal Environment Agency, has far-reaching powers: Without his consent, the pesticide cannot be sold.

The report contains ten recommendations. This includes involving Bafu in the pesticide evaluation and strengthening the independence of the Steering Committee. In addition, the federal government needs to adapt the legislation so that it is easier to remove pesticides from the market in the short term if new risk assessments are made.

The Federal Task Force will consider the report and develop a concept for implementation by spring 2020. In addition to representatives from BLW and Bafu, they include exponents of the Federal Office of Public Health, as well as the Secretariat of State for Economic Affairs (Seco) and the Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs (FSO). The extent to which the Federal Administration shares KPMG's analysis is unclear.

BLW and Bafu are transmitting the report

The cause is sensitive. For example, Bafu does not want to comment on the extent to which it will now work to strengthen its own role in the licensing process. The various interests of federal offices are likely to conflict. The label for this is a media release that sent the offices yesterday. Unlike the KPMG investigation, it also calls the problems "visibly" reserved, but extremely restrained or, as a representative of the environmental association says.

Criticism of pesticide approval 2Calls for reform: GLP politician Tiana Moser. Photo by Keystone

In Parliament, the KPMG report encourages a call for comprehensive reform. "The protection of the population and the environment in the future must play a central role in the approval process," says GLP Group leader Tiana Moser. She cites recent federal research showing that pesticides pollute groundwater and drinking water, sometimes more than is allowed by law. The Federal Council was also sought. And he should finally solve the problem seriously. The KPMG report provides the basis for this.

Expectations are also formulated by Markus Ritter, CVP National Council and president of the Farmers Association. Authorization decisions should be based on scientific principles and procedures should be transparent. "We expect the task force to further develop approval procedures in this direction."

Created: 22.11.2019, 06:28 hour