Pesticide proposals on hold

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Series Details Vol.4, No.26, 2.7.98, p7
Publication Date 02/07/1998
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Date: 02/07/1998

By Myles Neligan

THE European Commission has postponed the unveiling of plans to set maximum pesticide levels for all babyfoods sold in the EU until its officials have finished scrutinising the latest advice from scientific experts.

Officials in the institution say that Industry Commissioner Martin Bangemann will fulfil his pledge to come forward with a proposal before the end of the year. But they add that they need more time to consider reports on the relative toxicities of the 200 different types of pesticide found in babyfood.

"We asked the EU Scientific Committee on Foodstuffs to clarify certain aspects of the standard risk-assessment procedures for pesticides, in order to establish whether a single maximum level is justified," said a spokesman. "We are considering the committee's conclusions. The proposal will come out this year, but it will take a few months."

The German government, which has imposed a single maximum residue level of 0.01 milligrams of pesticide per kilogram of babyfood, is pushing hard for the Commission to follow suit in its proposals for EU-wide legislation.

Other member states claim that such a restrictive approach would outlaw many babyfood brands and force farmers who supply the industry to adopt pesticide-free organic farming methods. They argue that the lower maximum limit of 0.01 mg/kg should apply only to the most toxic types of pesticide, with higher limits for less dangerous substances.

The scientific committee concluded earlier this month that there was a case for reassessing the health risk of pesticides with particularly low acceptable daily intakes, but also said that the presence of other types of pesticide at levels above 0.01 mg/kg of babyfood did "not necessarily imply a risk to health".

Commission has postponed the unveiling of plans to set maximum pesticide levels for all baby foods.

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