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EU reapproves controversial soil fumigant

PAN Europe reacted with disappointment to the EU’s decision to reapprove the pesticide metam. Although the soil fumigant was banned in 2009, due to gaps in safety data, 15 member states continued the use of the dangerous soil fumigant, metam as a result of a loophole.

PAN Europe argued that these provisions were not justified. Alternatives are readily available, such as wider crop rotation and the use of resistant varieties. The fact that 12 Member States do not need to use metam makes it very likely the “essential use” is unjustified.

Last year, PAN Europe urged Commissioner Dalli not to propose an approval and to adopt a policy to completely phase-out soil fumigants. At that time PAN-E also warned of the lack of interest of certain EU member states for a transition to new sustainable agriculture.

Nevertheless, member state representatives approved the reauthorisation in March (published in the EU’s official journal on 26 April 2012). A spokesman of the European Commission said the decision was almost unanimous and places strict conditions on metam’s use. The new authorisation expires in June 2022.

Hans Muilerman, chemicals officer at PAN-Europe, said the decision was a political one pushed by member states. “If you look at the science behind it, it could not be approved,” he said. Metam has an unacceptable environmental impact and helps maintain agricultural monocultures, he added.

More information:

PAN Europe report: Essential use of soil fumigant Metam Sodium; the unsustainable "15" identified.

PAN Europe: Letter to Commissioner Dalli Concerning Soil fumigation and Metam Sodium.

10/05/2012

Originally posted on 10 May 2012

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