Experts say European fruits and vegetables are in danger
The Roundtable underlined several damaging developments.
Lack of available solutions for farmers due to problems with mutual recognition, bringing new products to the market and to regulatory uncertainty (including Endocrine disruptors, candidates for substitution etc).
The varying pace of implementation of mutual recognition between countries, creates distortions of competition. The lack of suitable solutions, including modern, highly effective seed treatment applications, can lead to severe consequences for growers in managing resistance development and in coping with new pests and diseases, such as Xylella fastidiosa, or climate-related challenge, like mycotoxins.
Increased burdensome and costly rules in regard to the approval of substances result in a lengthy process and delays in the availability of new substances for use by growers in the European Union.
The product approval process now takes 4-6 years – two years longer than under the previous legislation! The permanent revaluation of existing substances based on new requirements further limit the available toolbox for growers.
The lack of appropriate solutions to protect certain crops could lead to shortage of EU production. Fruit and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, but in many cases the right tools are not available to protect these key crops. The EU minor use scheme should play an important role and needs to become operational and efficient as quickly as possible.
There is a need for a single European zone for minor uses, and more generally, for fostering the spirit of Regulation EC/1107/2009: harmonisation, mutual recognition, extension of uses.
Those tools should be properly implemented without excessive additional national restrictions by individual Member States. At the same time, regulatory imbalances between legislation of EU and Third countries can negatively impact trade with products that need to be imported from outside the EU.
The current legislation does not provide the detailed rules for its practical implementation to processed products such as for crude vegetable oils, dried fruits or essential lemon oil. This exposes EU operators to legal and trade challenges which need to be addressed. ■