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Achieving a High Level of Protection from Pesticides in Europe: Problems with the Current Risk Assessment Procedure and Solutions

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Claire Robinson
  • Christopher J. Portier
  • Aleksandra Cavoski
  • Robin Mesnage
  • Apolline Roger
  • Peter Clausing
  • Paul Whaley
  • Hans Muilerman
  • Angeliki Lyssimachou
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Risk Regulation
Issue number3
Number of pages31
Pages (from-to)450-480
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date16/04/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The regulation of pesticides in the European Union (EU) relies on a network of hard law (legislation and implementing acts) and soft law (non-legally binding guidance documents and administrative and scientific practices). Both hard and soft laws govern how risk assessments are conducted, but a significant role is left to the latter. Europe’s pesticide regulation is one of the most stringent in the world. Its stated objectives are to ensure an independent, objective and transparent assessment of pesticides and achieve a high level of protection for health and environment. However, a growing body of evidence shows that pesticides that have passed through this process and are authorised for use may harm humans, animals and the environment. The authors of the current paper – experts in toxicology, law and policy – identified shortcomings in the authorisation process, focusing on the EU assessment of the pesticide active substance glyphosate. The shortcomings mostly consist of failures to implement the hard or soft laws. But in some instances the law itself is responsible, as some provisions can only fail to achieve its objectives. Ways to improve the system are proposed, requiring changes in hard and soft laws as well as in administrative and scientific practices.