India and Colombia have raised concerns at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the projected lowering of permissible limits on certain pesticides by the European Union and have argued that the measure could significantly impact trade as these substances are commonly used on a variety of crops, including soyabean and citrus fruits.
The fact that the new EU regulation does not establish a transitional period for producers to adapt to the new maximum residue limits (MRLs) was also raised by the two countries, a Geneva-based trade official told BusinessLine.
At a recent meeting of the WTO’s Sanitary & Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee, India and Colombia pointed out that the EU had based its measures on a hazard approach and a precautionary stance, without considering the scientific evidence presented by the relevant organisations recognised by the SPS Agreement and their subsidiary bodies which are not conclusive with regard to the genotoxic quality of these substances.
The measures could hurt exports of third countries as these are commonly used on a variety of crops, including but not limited to grains and fruits, they argued. For example, buprofezin is widely used in pest management control of the white fly in soyabean crops and the Asian citrus psyllid in citrus.
India’s basmati exports to the EU has already taken a hit due to the lowering of the MRL on tricyclazole, a fungicide used by Indian farmers.
Fourteen other countries including Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the US, Panama, Paraguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala and Turkey also shared India and Colombia’s concerns on the new MRLs.
The EU, however, responded that the proposed lowering of MRLs was necessary to protect consumers as some of them were carcinogenic and there had been no demonstrations to show that limits higher than these were safe.
It added that the draft legal acts lowering the MRLs apply generally six months after the date of entry into force, allowing member States, third countries and food business operators to put in place adequate arrangements to meet the new requirements.
Source: The Hindu Businessline