No Show-Boating Over Rat Poison Vote

17 September 2010
Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has urged Scottish and European MEPs to back the delicate but well-balanced compromise on new laws governing the application of rat poisons and other biocides.
The Klass Report on Biocides, due to be voted on next week in the European Parliament, allows farmers and rural enterprises to continue to use rat poison where "it is shown by evidence that the active substance is necessary to prevent or control a serious danger to public or animal health...and that there are no effective alternative substances or technologies available."  However, the proposal also recognises the dangerous nature of these substances, and the need to phase them out as quickly as possible.  Member States must draw up substitution plans demonstrating how they plan to replace anticoagulants with alternative pest control methods.

Smith said:

"As expected, the Environment Committee reached a sensible compromise.  This regulation has been accompanied by a lot of show-boating and general nonsense about how the EU is planning to ban rat poisons entirely: a ridiculous claim that provided some MEPs with good sport and publicity, but which ultimately only fuels misconceptions about the work we do here in Brussels.

"I do not want to see this fake debate resurrect itself as we approach the full Parliament vote next week.  We've got a good deal on the table, and it should be recognised as such.

"First, it makes clear that rat poison is nasty stuff, deadly to wildlife and mankind alike, and so should be used as sparingly as possible, with a clear pathway and incentives for Member States and researchers to come up with viable, less dangerous alternatives as quickly as possible.  However, it does acknowledge that we are not yet at the stage where we can eliminate rat poison completely, so it makes provisions for the use of anticoagulants in situations where there is a clear threat to human or animal health, or to the environment or food safety.

"This is sensible, and was overwhelmingly backed by the Environment Committee.  I hope the full Parliament will do the same."

The compromise agreed upon in ENVI Committee on rat poisons is as follows:

2. The active substances referred to in paragraph 1 may be included in Annex I only if at least one of the following conditions is met:

(a) the exposure of humans or to the environment to the active substance in question in a biocidal product, under normal conditions of use, is negligible, meaning that the product is used in closed systems or under other conditions excluding contact with humans;

(b) it is shown by evidence that the active substance is necessary to prevent or control a serious danger to public or animal health or to the environment, to food and feed safety, or to the public interest and that there are no effective alternative substances or technologies available.

The use of any biocidal product containing active substances included in Annex I pursuant to this paragraph shall be subject to appropriate risk mitigation measures to ensure that exposure of humans and the environment is minimised.

A Member State authorising a biocidal product containing an active substance included in Annex I pursuant to this paragraph shall draw up a substitution plan concerning the control of the serious danger by other means including non-chemical methods, which are as effective as the biocidal product concerned and shall without delay transmit that plan to the Commission. The use of the biocidal product with the active substance concerned shall be restricted to those Member States where the serious danger has to be prevented or, if it occurs, controlled.