Are Pesticides that are already in Use Monitored for Safety?
There are a number of programmes to ensure the monitoring of approved pesticides is effective. Monitoring is important as it ensures pesticides are used correctly and that pesticide use is not compromising the safety of food or water or having other undesirable effects on the environment or people's health. The results of monitoring are available to CRD and reports of adverse effects or concerns involving the use of pesticides are assessed and used as a basis for considering the need for regulatory action.
Monitoring of Pesticide Residues in Food
Enforcement Monitoring of Pesticide Residues in Food/crops is carried out to to ensure that residue levels do not exceed the legal level; and to indicate if there are any incidents of misuse of pesticides. Such monitoring is important as it ensures, not only that good agricultural practice in undertaken, but also that consumers are confident that our foodstuffs are sound and reliably produced.
Pesticide residues in food are also monitored regularly by the Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) to check that residues in food do not exceed Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) which are set by legislation.
Pesticide residues in water are monitored by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). The DWI checks that the water companies in England and Wales supply safe water to drink and meet the standards set in the Water Quality Regulations, which include standards for pesticides. They also investigate complaints from consumers and incidents which affect or could affect drinking water quality. The Inspectorate produces an annual report containing detailed information about the quality of drinking water in England and Wales. They also publish a free leaflet each year giving the results of the water company monitoring.
The Pesticide Incidents Appraisal Panel (PIAP) monitors health complaints in humans associated with pesticides and the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) monitors poisoning of wildlife and pets. Reports for PIAP and WIIS are published annually.
Pesticide Incident Appraisal Panel (PIAP)
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Pesticide Incident Appraisal Panel considers all investigated incidents where the agricultural use of pesticides may have affected a person’s health. The Panel receives full information about each incident, including a report of the field investigations carried out by HSE together with the results of any medical investigation and the known or suspected adverse effects of the chemical involved. If evidence does emerge concerning the safety of a particular product then the approval of that product can be reviewed and could result in its approval being restricted or even revoked.
Annual Questionnaire On The Possible Effects of Pesticides on Human Health
Approval holding companies are under an on-going obligation to submit immediately any new information on the potentially dangerous effects of a product or of residues of an active substance contained in a product, on human or animal health, ground water or the environment. In order to check whether this reporting system is functioning effectively CRD (previously PSD) carries out a survey of all human health incidents reported to Approval Holders each year. Further Information on Human Health Questionnaire.
Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) and Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning
The Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS), monitors the impact of agricultural pesticides on wildlife. Where incidents are caused by misuse or abuse of pesticides, enforcement action is taken where appropriate. Offenders are prosecuted whenever sufficient evidence is available.
In support of the WIIS, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Joint Nature Conservancy Council, run the Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning.
Enforcement of Controls over Sale,Supply,Storage and Use of Pesticides
The HSE are authorised to enforce controls on the storage and use of pesticides as part of the work activity such as by industrial users in the treatment of timber, in private dwellings by professional contractors, use in agriculture and the storage of pesticides by certain distributors, and use by Local Authorities and public utilities. They are also responsible for the use of pesticides as part of a work activity in private dwellings.
Local authorities enforce controls in respect of the advertisement, sale, supply, storage and use for those areas not under HSE's jurisdiction, such as wholesale and retail premises, hotels and residential accommodation, warehouses, museums, catering establishments, sports grounds (including golf courses), gardens, parks and garden centres. Local authority responsibility is usually split between trading standard officers, who are responsible for consumer aspects of advertising, sale and supply and environmental health officers, who undertake enforcement in respect of storage and use in areas not covered by the HSE. Some Local Authorities, however, combine these functions.
Monitoring Pesticide Usage
Information on the use of pesticides within Great Britain is collected by the Pesticide Usage Survey Group (PUSG) based at Defra's The Food and Environment Research Agency. The Group collects data on pesticides used on arable crops, vegetables, glasshouse crops, soft fruit, top fruit, fodder and forage, stored fruit, vegetables and grain. The surveys provide accurate information concerning regional and national pesticide usage including: the total treated area; proportion of crops treated; methods and timing of application.
The data collected provide essential information for determining government policy concerning control of pesticides, especially during the reviews of approvals.
More information on the work of the Group and summaries of pesticide survey results is available (see link below).
Review of Older Pesticides
CRD manages a UK review programme for older pesticides established by the Advisory Committee on Pesticides and conducted under the Control of Pesticides Regulations. CRD also participates in a European review programme for existing pesticides. The European review programme is established under Council Directive 91/414/EEC which aims to harmonise the registration of plant protection products throughout the European Community. All existing active substances on the EU market are being reviewed to modern standards and, assuming that they meet stringent safety criteria, they are placed on a positive list (Annex I of the Directive) and product authorisations permitted. A substance will only be included on Annex I when its use can be shown to be without harmful effects on human or animal health or to the environment, when used according to good plant protection practices.
Approval Holders are legally required to submit any evidence of ‘adverse’ data regarding their products that they become aware of, in order that CRD can make an assessment of the risks resulting from this new information. They are required to 'submit immediately any new information on the potentially dangerous effects of a product or of residues of an active substance contained in a product, on human or animal health, ground water or the environment.' Regulatory action may be taken depending on the nature of the adverse effects seen, this may include revocation of approvals or amendment of approvals.
The Government also supports a policy to minimise the risks from the use of pesticides to consumers, pesticide users and the environment.