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As laid down in Directive 91/414/EEC, in 1993 the European Commission launched the work programme
on the Community-wide review for all active substances used in plant protection products within the European
Union. In this review process, each substance had to be evaluated as to whether it could be used safely with respect
to human health (consumers, farmers, local residents and passers-by) and the environment, in particular
groundwater and non-target organisms, such as birds, mammals, earthworms, bees.
There were about 1 000 active substances (and tens of thousands of products containing them)
on the market at the time the Directive was adopted. Decisions only really started to be
taken in 2001 as harmonised technical requirements had to be set first.
The programme started slowly, but the work accelerated as of 2005.
This enabled the review programme to be finalised in March 2009 when the last
decisions were taken. In short, 75% of the decisions were taken in the last four years.
This achievement has been possible due to the efforts of the Commission and the European Food
Safety Authority, as well as the strong commitment of Member State experts.
This review provides assurances that the substances currently
on the market are acceptable for human health and for the environment,
in accordance with European-wide criteria. Until this review was finalised,
the level of protection could vary widely and national rules on substances could continue to apply.
The review of existing pesticides has led to the removal
from the market of pesticides which cannot be used safely.
Of some 1 000 active substances on the market in at least one
Member State before 1993, 26 %, corresponding to about 250 substances,
have passed the harmonised EU safety assessment. The majority of substances (67%)
have been eliminated because dossiers were either not submitted, incomplete or withdrawn by industry.
About 70 substances failed the review and have been removed from the market, because the evaluation carried out did not show safe use with respect to human health and the environment.
Review programme of existing pesticides: overview
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council:
Evaluation of the active substances of plant protection products (doc. COM (2001) 444), 25 July 2001
+ Technical annex (Doc. SANCO/2692/2001), 25 July 2001