On 13 January 2009, the European Parliament adopted a regulation to replace existing rules on so-called ?plant protection products?. Plant protection products are broadly defined as pesticides, including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides.
Once in force, the new regulation, which is based on a 2006 proposal from the European Commission, will tighten rules on pesticide use out of concern for human, animal and environmental health. In particular, the new regulation contains new criteria for the approval of active substances in pesticides, and defines the role of the European Food Safety Authority. It also provides for inspection and monitoring on the production, storage, transport and use of pesticides. In this regard, the new regulation will require farmers and manufacturers to phase out 22 of the most toxic pesticides over the next ten years. The regulation also restricts the use of pesticides in or near certain areas, including parks, urban areas and wetlands.
Some environmental interest groups are reportedly pleased with the legislation, but have criticised the ten-year period given to phase out the 22 most toxic pesticides, arguing that the ban should be immediate. In contrast, certain industry groups, as well as certain British lawmakers, have reportedly criticised the legislation, arguing that it will lead to higher food prices. The new regulation is likely to be approved by the EU Council in coming weeks, and enter into force soon after.