Pesticides used in plant protection: ACP consultation/advice on approvals.
ACP terms of reference
Under Section 16(7) of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, Ministers have established the Advisory Committee on Pesticides*to give them advice, either when requested to do so or otherwise, on any matters relating to the control of pests in furthering the general purposes of Part III of the Act.
The general purposes of Part III of the Food and Environment Protection Act are that the provisions of that part of the Act shall have effect:
(i) with a view to the continuous development of means
(a) to protect the health of human beings, creatures and plants;
(b) to safeguard the environment; and
(c) to secure safe, efficient and humane methods of controlling pests;
Under Section 16(9) Ministers are required to consult the Advisory Committee:
(i) as to regulations which they contemplate making;
(ii) as to approvals of pesticides which they contemplate giving, revoking or suspending; and
(iii) as to conditions to which they contemplate making approvals subject.
Ministers’ duty to “consult” on approvals, revocations/suspensions
A strict reading of these terms of reference might imply that the ACP is asked to advise on all approvals matters, including the new approvals that are issued for administrative reasons, for example when a company changes its name, or on “housekeeping” revocations or those automatic revocations where active substances are not supported for commercial reasons. However, in practice, the Minister’s duty, in furthering the general purposes described above, has traditionally been discharged by virtue of PSD signing off on the more routine types of approvals on his behalf while seeking (and receiving) advice on “significant” applications and revocations. For the avoidance of legal uncertainty, this paper seeks confirmation for Ministers of the Committee’s continuing agreement to PSD ’s use of certain criteria to determine which approvals/revocations are referred individually to the ACP for advice, and which are handled by PSD in the light of previous ACP advice on applications and administrative or other general principles.
PSD considers around 1500 applications each year. For practical reasons it has never been the practice of the ACP to provide advice on every approval issued or revoked. Rather the ACP has provided advice that provides a framework within which officials can operate. For many years the Chairman of the ACP has also provided a review of the scientific quality of PSD’s approvals work during which he has selected and reviewed a sample of the work undertaken by PSD during the preceding year.
This paper is intended to set out the type of applications for approval and proposals for revocation and suspension of approvals that are passed to the ACP.
First approval of an active substance in the UK
All applications for first approval of an active substance in the UK are seen at ACP meetings. Mutual recognition applications, based on approvals issued elsewhere in the EU, are evaluated by PSD in line with the regulatory end points that have been agreed within the EU and the legal requirements of directive 91/414/EEC for the consideration of mutual recognition. The approval is then issued in line with the legal requirements and the evaluation is passed to the ACP for information. In all other cases the ACP is asked to provide advice on the evaluation of an application for a product containing an active substance not previously approved in the UK.
Reviews of active substances
The ACP has previously agreed that whilst EU reviews progress at an acceptable rate, there is no good reason to duplicate this programme by maintaining a routine review programme in the UK. However there remains the possibility that special reviews of UK approved products might be required and these are considered by the ACP. Recent examples include the UK review of oxadiazon.
The ACP provides advice on applications for emergency approvals, often by email due to the tight timescales involved. Recent examples include use of diquat to control aquatic weeds.
Other ‘significant’ applications
PSD can pass any application to the ACP for advice if in the view of PSD it does not fit within the framework specified by the ACP for approvals issued in the UK, or is of such significance (either in terms of science or policy) that Ministers will require specific advice on approval or revocation. Recent examples which have led to approvals include the application for ‘lawn treatment’ which proposed using packaging as risk management for a product classified as a sensitiser, and the referral of the applications for experimental permits for pesticides on genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops. A recent example of a ‘significant’ application resulting in advice to revoke approvals is Isoproturon.
*Under the Control of Pesticides (Advisory Committee) Order (Northern Ireland) 1987, the Committee was established as the Committee on Pesticides for Northern Ireland