SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: June 12, 2019

SNIP: The UK has been accused of “silently eroding” key environmental and human health protections in the Brexit-inspired rush to convert thousands of pages of European Union pesticide policy into British law.

Despite government claims the process would be little more than a technical exercise, analysis by the University of Sussex’s UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has uncovered significant departures from EU regulations, including the removal of a blanket ban on hormone-disrupting chemicals, which are known to cause adverse health effects such as cancer, birth defects and immune disorders.

The UK legislation removes the EU system of checks and balances to give a handful of ministers the power to create, amend and revoke pesticide legislation. It also appears to weaken the existing “precautionary principle” approach, which requires scientific evidence from an independent body that a pesticide is safe to use. Instead, UK ministers are given the option to obtain and consider such evidence at their own discretion.

The EU provides up to 80% of the UK’s environmental laws, which include regulations on pesticides, landfills, recycling and climate heating. Under the new regulations, however, power to make, amend and revoke pesticide legislation will be devolved to each of the national territories and consolidated to a secretary of state in England, relevant ministers in Scotland and Wales, and the competent authority in Northern Ireland.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals are permitted for use in Canada and the US, and both countries have criticised the EU ban. Whether the UK government’s decision to remove the ban was an invitation to open trade talks with North America was as yet unclear.