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Plant Health
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Plant Protection - Introduction

EU legislation regulates the marketing and use of plant protection products and their residues in food.

Council Directive 91/414/EECpdf states that active substances cannot be used in plant protection products unless they are included in a positive EU list. An EU programme of evaluation to create this list is underway. Most of the active substances under evaluation are pesticides but many - such as growth regulators, pheromones etc - are not. All plant protection uses are covered; not just those in agriculture. Pesticides used in other areas, for example as veterinary drugs or as biocides, are covered by other legislation. Once a substance is included in the positive list Member States may authorise the use of products containing them.

Pesticides residues in food are regulated by four Council Directives: 76/895/EECpdf, 86/362/EECpdf, 86/363/EECpdf and 90/642/ECpdf. A Commission proposal to consolidate and amend these is currently being discussed in the Parliament and the Council. The legislation covers the setting, monitoring and control of pesticides residues in products of plant and animal origin that may arise from their use in plant protection.

The maximum levels set are those consistent with good agricultural practice in Member States and third countries. The levels are set after an evaluation of any risks to consumers of different age groups and they are only set if they are considered safe. The levels are intended to facilitate trade and are not toxicological limits. The excedence of a maximum level is more an indication of an incorrect use of a pesticide than a risk to the consumer. Nonetheless, excedence is closely monitored, evaluated and communicated to the authorities in the Member States through the Rapid Alert system for food whenever there is a potential risk to consumers.

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