HomeConsum-actorsStop the insecticide cypermethrin. Pan Europe appeals to the Court of Justice

Stop the insecticide cypermethrin. Pan Europe appeals to the Court of Justice

PAN Europe (Pesticide Action Network) continues the battle against the authorization of cypermethrin - an insecticide toxic to bees and aquatic organisms, suspected of acting as an endocrine disruptor - and for the first time brings the case to the European Court of Justice. (1)

Cypermethrin, obvious toxicity

Cypermethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid used as an insecticide. It has been permitted for use in agriculture since 2006 and is also present in spray cans for home use as an insecticide against flies and mosquitoes.

According to the harmonized classification of European Union

- 'it is toxic if ingested, 

– it is very toxic to aquatic organisms, 

– it is very toxic to aquatic organisms with long-lasting effects, 

– may cause damage to organs in case of prolonged or repeated exposure e 

– may cause respiratory irritation'. (ECHA). (2)

Approval renewed despite EFSA's fears

The European Commission renewed the authorization of cypermethrin 'as a candidate substance for substitution' until 31 January 2029 (Reg. (EU) 2021/2049. (3)

The decision however, it was taken overlooking the precautionary principle, highlights PAN Europe. The Commission has in fact ignored the conclusions of EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, which highlight data gaps for the evaluation of the danger of the substance.

The gaps highlighted by EFSA

EFSA in 2018 it issued a first opinion to evaluate the danger of alpha-cypermethrin based on representative uses on cereals, lettuce, rapeseed, leafy cabbage, cucumbers and courgettes. The substance has been recognized as having endocrine-mediated activity, but the insufficiency of the data provided by the manufacturing company did not allow an evaluation of its potential as an endocrine disruptor in mammals.

The lack of data it also prevented an assessment of the food risk for consumers resulting from the presence of residues on crops. While no chronic intake concerns were identified using maximum residual limits (MRLs) for representative uses, an acute concern was found regarding the intake of cucumbers, courgettes, kale and lettuces in children in the Netherlands, United Kingdom. United Kingdom and Germany.

High risks have been highlighted for aquatic organisms and for a range of surface water scenarios. However, data is lacking to evaluate the behavior of residues of the active substance and metabolites when they are present in surface water that percolates and is extracted as drinking water.

EFSA concludes its opinion by stating the need to adopt risk mitigation measures to achieve a low risk for aquatic organisms, honey bees and non-target arthropods. (4)

Questionable risk mitigation measures

The European Commission therefore asked EFSA for an opinion on the possibility of identifying a use of the insecticide that mitigates its risky effects on plants, animals, food and feed.

The Authority concludes that

– a low risk for aquatic organisms can only be achieved if mitigation goes beyond 95%.

– a low risk for bees can be achieved by spraying the pesticide during periods when there are no flowers in the field

– a further mitigation measure is the provision of a 133 m wide buffer zone in cereal fields.

EFSA itself, however, states that these measures are difficult for farmers to apply and there is no evidence of their effectiveness. (5)

The accusations of PAN EU

The NGO PAN Europe took first legal action in 2022 against the European Commission's decision to reapprove cypermethrin despite the risk assessment presented by EFSA being incomplete.

The Court of the European Union (in first instance) on 21 February 2024, however, rejected the appeal.

'This ruling does not encourage EFSA to respect legal and scientific standards when publishing its conclusions on pesticides. It could give an incentive to the pesticide industry to provide incomplete dossiers on genotoxicity or environmental toxicity.', commented Salomé Roynel of PAN Europe.

Appeal to the Court of Justice, a historic event

The combative PAN Europe he therefore appealed to the Court of Justice of the EU. A historic event. It is in fact the first time that an NGO has access to the Court of Justice in a case concerning the approval of pesticides. (6)

The recognition of this right it is the result of a long battle, which began in 1998, when the Aarthus Convention recognized the public's right to challenge decisions contrary to environmental regulations, and ended in 2021, when the right was implemented.

23 years of struggle to allow PAN Europe today to ask the highest European Court to guarantee the protection of human health and the environment. And that the precautionary principle is respected, which the European Commission and Member States too often bend in favor of the interests of agrochemistry and agribusiness.

Alessandra Mei

Footnotes

(1) PAN Europe. PAN Europe appeals the General Court judgment on the EU re-approval of endocrine-disruptor cypermethrin. 2.5.2024 https://www.pan-europe.info/press-releases/2024/05/pan-europe-appeals-general-court-judgment-eu-re-approval-endocrine-disruptor

(2) ECHA https://echa.europa.eu/it/substance-information/-/substanceinfo/100.110.015

(3) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2049 of 24 November 2021 renewing the approval of the active substance cypermethrin as a candidate substance for substitution, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 540/2011 of the Commission (Text with EEA relevance). Eur-Lex https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32021R2049

(4) EFSA (2018) Peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance alpha-cypermethrin. EFSA JournalVolume 16, Issue 9 e05403. Doi: https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2018.5403 

(5) EFSA (2019) Statement on risk mitigation measures on cypermethrin. EFSA JournalVolume 17, Issue 10 e05822. Doi: https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2019.5822 

(6) PAN Europe. First ever case against pesticide permit in highest EU Court. 7.5.2024 https://www.pan-europe.info/blog/first-ever-case-against-pesticide-permit-highest-eu-court?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTAAAR1sHNDf_YCM4fd5uaXlSn8y3-kD4n98uoq9xf-RzH6fSTg3yFPFHwaNpcE_aem_ATQJXaO2AHE8SiF-tTMeZc2udm6H_gZ1FeLl4tt70syQMBv_S7CzmfxupBjjvgqPMmSNhJih-yTAsdXCiY9m6qgY 

Alessandra Mei

Graduated in Law from the University of Bologna, she attended the Master in Food Law at the same University. You participate in the WIISE srl benefit team by dedicating yourself to European and international research and innovation projects.

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