Pesticides used to protect plant/crops from pests and diseases or control unwanted plants (weeds) are known as plant protection products. These must be authorised by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate before they can be sold and supplied for use in the UK. European Union legislation (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009) aims to harmonise the registration of plant protection products across member States, and ensure that they are safe to use.
The EU system is based upon a two-tier registration system. Active substances are assessed at EU level for approval and placed on the Approved List of active substances. Products containing approved active substances must then be assessed and registered by Member States. These assessments need only consider areas relevant to the products that were not covered in the assessment for approval of the active substance.
All plant protection products must be authorised before they can be sold and used in the UK. Permission is also needed for most experimental uses.
In most cases this will take the form of an authorisation for a professional product for commercial users, or for amateur home and allotment gardeners. Details of authorisations are included in our product databases. Occasionally extensions of authorisation for minor uses (EAMUs) are given which authorise the use of professional products on additional crops. Crops listed in extensions of authorisation can be added to the label by the manufacturer. However, they are often requested by grower organisations and are not added to the label. If the extended uses are not on the label, users must obtain and understand the details of the extension of authorisation (available from the EAMU database on this website) before any application of pesticide is made. The user must also understand that they bear the risk in respect of failures concerning the the efficacy and phytotoxicity of the product, since these aspects are not assessed before the granting of an EAMU.
[ EAMUs were previously known as Specific Off-Label Approvals (SOLAs).]
A few chemicals widely used for other purposes also have minor uses for plant protection purposes. These are approved as commodity substances and are still regulated under previous UK legislation (the Control of Pesticides Regulations).
Parallel Trade Products
You may not market or use a product introduced from another Member State unless it has been granted a Parallel Trade Permit confirming that it is identical to one already authorised in the UK.
The maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides permitted in crops are laid down in legislation. MRLs are not safety levels, they are based on the maximum residue that is expected to be present if a pesticide has been used according to its authorisation, which could be far less than a safety limit. Exceedance of an MRL does not necessarily mean that a safety limit has been exceeded.
More on Maximum Residue Levels...
Codes of practice for pesticide use and enforcement
Statutory codes of practice give advice to users, suppliers and others on their legal responsibilities and how to meet them. Various bodies are responsible for ensuring compliance with the legislation.