The jury is still out on trade deal with EU

The European Union’s move toward a hazard-based approach for pesticide approvals has put billions of dollars worth of Canadian crop exports at risk.

A hazard-based approach regulates substances based on their intrinsic properties without accounting for the exposure to the substance, while a risk-based approach factors in exposure.

Canada’s Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau met May 12 with EU commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to discuss the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU.

Through an Access to Information and Privacy request, The Western Producer received a briefing note given to Bibeau for the May 12 meeting outlining Canadian concerns over CETA, including ambiguous application of country-of-origin labelling, veterinary medicinal production regulations, and the movement toward hazard-based regulations in the EU.

The Canadian government is “concerned with the EU’s approach to pesticide approvals-potentially affects $2 billion annually of Canadian crops exported to the EU,” the note said.

It said Canada had raised concerns over the uncertainty and lack of transparency related to EU policy for setting maximum residue limits (MRLs) for certain pesticides that have been determined to meet specific hazard-based cut-off criteria, including “substances with endocrine disrupting (EDC) or carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reproductive toxicant (CMR) properties.”

In a separate briefing note given to Bibeau for a May 11 meeting with her Dutch counterpart Carola Schouten, a talking point had Bibeau ask the Netherlands to support a risk-based approach for decision making on key European regulations.

The note also suggested the Canadian government is concerned with how Brexit will affect European regulations.

“With Brexit looming and new voting dynamics in the EU soon to be at play, do you foresee a shift in support for science-based decision making in the EU decision making bodies?” the note said.

It’s too early for Canadian farmers to pass judgment on CETA, but the EU’s move toward a hazard-based assessment for pesticide approvals could reduce agricultural exports into the EU, with or without CETA.

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