EU committee on pesticides 'must make useful contribution' during its short lifespan

The European Parliament created the temporary committee this year
The European Parliament created the temporary committee this year

The EU's temporary committee on pesticides (PEST) must take a common sense approach to regulation if it is to make a useful contribution, a leading member said.

PEST was created earlier this year by the European Parliament in a response to concerns raised about the perceived risk posed by pesticides.

The committee, which has 30 members, held its inaugural meeting in March and will deliver a final report of its factual findings and recommendations nine months down the line.

UK member of PEST, Anthea McIntyre, MEP and Conservative spokesman on Agriculture, said the committee has a "temporary lifespan and a short timeline".

She told a Brussels debate on pesticides regulation to bear in mind that PEST was a political initiative by certain political groups with an eye to next year’s European elections.

She said: "The whole process is relatively short, it will only produce an opinion, not legislation. I nevertheless would welcome the opportunity for MEPs to ask questions to experts in a format that allows a 'ping-pong' of questions and answers back and forth."

'Food security'

Miss McIntyre said that the argument for some people was not about whether glyphosate was safe or not, but about whether the EU should authorise any chemicals for use in food and agricultural production.

She added: "In my opinion, we should authorise them because we need them if we are to maintain food security. We must have a common sense approach to this issue.”

Miss McIntyre rejected an assertion by an agricultural trade union that farmers generally used pesticides inappropriately.

She said chemicals were expensive, so farmers would use the smallest amount possible. Precision farming and integrated pest-management methods were making sure pesticides were applied in an ever more efficient and environmentally-friendly way.

“I hope that something sensible will come out of the PEST committee and I hope it will deliver on its mandate. We need to provide science-based policy making and distinguish fact from fiction,” Miss McIntyre added.