Over 200 professionals attend webinar on policies and legislation on pesticides

Jul 12, 2021 | Events

On June 30th, Promote Pollinators hosted a webinar in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Over 200 scientists, policymakers and other professionals attended the webinar, which focused on policies and legislation on pesticides. The topic led to lively discussions in the chat, and between attendees and presenters, as well as an informative panel discussion. Did you miss the webinar? You can now watch the recording.

Evidence, policy and implementation

Martijn Thijssen and Elise de Groot of the Promote Pollinators secretariat hosted the webinar from a greenhouse on top of a 15 meter tall building in the Dutch town of Woerden. The webinar focused on three thematic areas: evidence on pesticide use and impacts, policies on pesticides, and implementation of these policies. 

bee on flower

After Thijssen opened the webinar, Professor Parthiba Basu of the University of Calcutta, India, gave an overview of the use of pesticides across the globe, and how this affects pollinators. The webinar then focused on two examples of pesticide policies. Tsvetana Georgieva of the European Commission presented on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the European Union, discussing how IPM can best be implemented. Following this, Dr. Roberta Nocelli presented on pesticide policies in Brazil, and how research aids the development of these policies. Last, but certainly not least, Ivy Saunyama and Kim-Anh Tempelman of FAO discussed how pesticides may be regulated in low and middle income countries, with a focus on Eastern and Southern Africa. In these countries, existing legislation on pesticides is often not specific for pollinator protection. Kim Anh Tempelman announced an online seminar organized by FAO and to be held on 23 – 24 February 2022, preceded by several regional working groups.

Lively panel discussion

Following the presentations, the presenters were joined by Abram Bicksler of FAO and came together for a panel discussion led by Thijssen. First, Tempelman, Saunyama and Bicksler explained how FAO is working together with countries to monitor the status of pollinators, and how the necessary data is collected. The discussion then moved to the implementation of IPM, and how IPM can reduce the dependency on pesticides. The panelists agreed that there is a need for more education so that more farmers can adopt IPM.

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Q&A

Below the presenters of the webinar have answered the questions that were asked in the Q&A. All answers reflect the opinion of the presenters, and not the opinion of the organisation they represent. 

Presentation Prof. Parthiba Basu

I am wondering if the data on pesticide input in Africa is lacking or why are the two graphs not changing between 1995 and 2018?

According to FAO statistics, for the African region  the use of pesticide active ingredients increased by 66% from approximately 50,000 tons per year in 1990 to 83,000 tons per year in 2018. The overall consumption is low in comparison to other countries and regions.  It is not blank for Africa – the colour shade is just relatively lighter.

How can you estimate the lost value from pollination services to crops due to the use of harmful agrochemicals?

Some studies are available to show that. We have some data to show yield loss due to pollination loss from pesticide use. To be published. Contact Prof. Basu for more information: bparthib@gmail.com.

I think the harm of systemic pesticides that protect crops from the inside out are especially insidious. Can you comment on those vs. topically applied?

You are right. But we need more data to clearly show GM’s effect.

 

Presentation Tsvetana Georgieva

Article 14 – Low pesticide input – giving priority to non-chemical methods : How can the EC make sure this is achieved? or how this is tackled?

IPM implementation is a legal obligation for pesticide professional users, subject to verification of relevant competent authorities in individual Member States. Overall performance by Member States is checked by the European Commission via audits or other ways.

Pollinator decline is very high in Europe. It would be more interesting to know how you want to address this effectively in your policies.

It is DG Environment who are responsible for EU policies on Pollinators. In the context of sustainable use of pesticides, evaluation of the Directive is currently on-going, with a legislative proposal awaited in the first quarter of 2022.

Are the results of these audits & fact-finding missions published anywhere?

All audit reports and fact finding mission reports are publicly available at DG SANTE website.

Has the risk assessment that permits the authorization of pesticides been standardized to define the potential risks to pollinators at an international level, or are there still different ways of evaluating the impacts (on pollinators, nectar or pollen, others)?

I find it difficult to have a standard risk assessment. We are facing difficulties in having a risk assessment that can be applied across Brazil, due to biodiversity, the size of the country and 

the variety of existing crops.

Do the risk assessment methods to authorize pesticides include pollinators? Are these risk assessment methods standardized at the international level?

With regard to PPP authorisation in the European Union, it is a two-step process. Approval of active substances at EU level comes first, and then authorization of PPPs containing these active substances is performed at Member State level. We would further elaborate, from an EU perspective, after the Webinar event. We have a different Directorate dealing with placing on the market of pesticides, and they would contribute in answering this question.

There is no globally harmonized risk assessment procedure. Different guidelines exist, especially from the EU and North America. Other regions tend to follow either of these “schools”. However, while there are differences between these two systems, the general principles of the approaches are similar. We hope to get more details about this, and the applicability of existing methods to other regions, through a review that FAO is conducting for the global seminar.

Why only 12 member states?

We audited 12 Member States between 2018 and 2020, but the audit series is still on-going. Three further Member States visited between January and April 2021, and other Member States would be visited in the second half of 2021 and 2022. Our audits are risk-based, selecting countries to be visited, where we have already identified weaknesses with regard to the implementation of the Sustainable Use Directive.

Which EU country was the one with the large percentage of organic farming?

Austria.

Are EU pesticide regulation/MRL settings hazard-based?

No, MRLs are established according to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 after a risk assessment carried out by a Member State first and then by the European Food Safety Authority.

Presentation Dr. Roberta Nocelli

Is it possible to use in Brazil, the exposure information and the environmental biomarkers that are used in Europe to authorize pesticides?

I believe that some biomarkers do, but it is necessary to assess the great differences that exist in our biomes, climate, etc…

Is the species Apis mellifera a good surrogate for all the brazilian native species in the risk assessment?

We hope to answer this question as soon as possíble.

 

Presentation Ivy Saunyama and Kim-Anh Tempelman

Legislation is one thing, what about quality of the legislation, adequacy, implementation and support to the ecosystem so that there is delivery on underlying objectives, is this checked? What is the possibility of FAO bringing/sponsoring global outlook to local and regional legislations leveraging on FAO global vantage position?

Indeed the quality of legislation matters. In the context of this webinar for example, ‘quality legislation’ would include pollinator protection. Sound implementation is also key, to translate the policy to practice. The studies leading to the Global seminar will also try to  ‘check ‘adequacy of existing legislation to support ecosystems – with focus on pollinators. FAO supports Governments/regional bodies with related legislation reviews/updates.

 

General questions

 How do the panelists view vertebrate pollinators like small mammals (bats, squirrels etc.)?

Effects on vertebrate pollinators are not well studied. But one recent paper shows that overall toxicity on vertebrates has reduced over time. (Schulzet al.,Science 372,81–84 (2021))

 The legislation doesn’t mention anything about biopesticides?

While most national pesticide legislations mention biopesticides; one major challenge in low and middle income countries is in implementation.  Pesticide regulators report that they have challenges in registering pesticides. Similarly, potential registrants are frustrated by the challenges faced when trying to register biopesticides.

 How do the Ministries of environment, health and agriculture work together to protect pollinators?

Some of the key legal/ policy  instruments that if well implemented would protect pollinators are  under the mandate of either the Ministry of Agriculture or Environment. In this case, it takes close collaboration between these key sectors to effectively implement such. As mentioned in my presentation; focus may be biased towards agriculture (e.g., heavy input use at the expense of the environment)

In some countries pesticides are regulated through the Ministry of Health while issues to do with pollinators are of concern and would be implemented under either Min of Agriculture or Min of Environment.

 Is the % reduction of pesticides use that we are looking for, already part of the legislation?

It is not purely reduction of pesticide use, but rather a reduction of risk involved, taking account of pesticide characteristics. In the EU, it is still not a legally binding target, but still largely discussed, where individual Member States are asked to support these targets, and contribute towards meeting the targets.

 IPM is very targeted against specific pests. That makes it difficult for farmers to learn all the different options.  It would be easier and probably more effective to enhance crop diversity per surface to attract higher diversity of natural enemies and reduce the abundance of pests in general.  If this is not sufficient, to apply additionally IPM.

For IPM, due to differences between crops, pests, regions and agricultural practices applicable, crop or group of crops specific knowledge is needed. All you mention is somehow linked to IPM, too. Different measures are already promoted/funded under agri-environmental schemes and rural development programmes under the Common Agricultural Policy in the European Union.

 Has the risk assessment that permits the authorisation of pesticides been standardized at an international level to define potential risks to pollinators, or are there still different ways of evaluating the impacts on pollinators, nectar or pollen?

Internationally harmonised experimental test protocols (e.g. OECD protocols) are available, although only for few species (e.g. Apis mellifera). The respective data requirements and/or risk assessment evaluations depend on the different jurisdictions. In the EU, there is an harmonised approach set via EU legislation (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and its implementing acts).