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BCPC Welcomes Appeal Court Decision on Crop Spraying

The British Crop Production Council (BCPC) has welcomed the unanimous decision of the Appeal Court to overturn last November’s High Court ruling on pesticide spraying.

“There’s no room for complacency in the protection of bystanders and residents when crops are being sprayed” said Dr Colin Ruscoe, Chairman of BCPC, “but the Appeal Court judgement will allow the UK regulators and the users of pesticides to continue to operate under what was acknowledged to be an effective legal framework.”

In the case for judicial review of the UK Government’s approach to this aspect of pesticide regulation, the High Court judge accepted a very literal interpretation of the words in the relevant European Directive. This would have imposed an absolute requirement on the UK regulatory authorities to ensure that no pesticide should be authorized for use unless it is established that it has no harmful effect on human health.’

“Such an absolute requirement could have had the effect of ending all pesticide use in the UK and that was never the intention of the European legislation”, said Dr Ruscoe. “The wording of EU Directives has to be interpreted purposively, not literally. This clearly applies to the pesticides’ Directive because that Directive contains several annexes that deal with risk assessment. The absolute approach taken by the High Court would not have allowed for any risk assessment at all.”

BCPC is part of a consortium that is undertaking research on several aspects of spray application, including spray drift. The Appeal Court decision clears the way for the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides to review the current assessments of risks from exposure to pesticides in the light of the new research and to advise the government and the Chemicals Regulation Directorate of any changes that may be necessary.

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