UK drops ban on toxic pesticides – an error or fast-tracked regulatory divergence?

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As time passes, more deficiencies are identified amongst the flood of statutory instruments, which were put forward by the UK government under the Withdrawal Act, which aims at copying across the EU’s acquis.

Easier said than done: the UK’s new legislation on pesticides would significantly change governance and objectives, going beyond a technical adaptation to the UK context, according to a study conducted at the UK Trade Policy Observatory, University of Sussex. It would give “more control to UK Ministers and less to independent scientific advisors”, which weakens the enforcement mechanisms and allow Ministers to consider the evidence at their own discretion.

Further to that, it appears that the EU’s legally binding restriction on active substances that have endocrine disrupting properties is missing from the UK’s copy across statutory instrument. Dr Lydgate, from the University of Sussex, postulated whether the changes in UK’s pesticides rules would make it easier for the UK to pivot to an US type of regulation.

CHEM Trust argues that this represents the “first concrete evidence of Brexit being used as a cover for deregulation”. CHEM Trust have sent a Pre-Action Protocol letter threatening legal action to Secretary of State Michael Gove unless weakened protections are amended. The letter also formally calls for a revision of the UK’s statutory instrument on REACH, which removes vital stakeholder engagement mechanisms, amongst other deficiencies. Responding in the HuffPost, the Ministry, Defra, said it was a “drafting error” which they are now addressing.

HuffPost article (June 2019)
Laboratory news article (May 2019)

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