Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Breaking news Public has a right to information on pesticide dangers, rules EU Court

Public has a right to information on pesticide dangers, rules EU Court

Public has a right to information on pesticide dangers, rules EU Court

Photo © Valcho - Fotolia

(LUXEMBOURG) - Safety tests conducted by the chemical industry and used by regulators to assess the dangers of pesticides must be disclosed, the EU's top court ruled Wednesday.

The European Court of Justice had heard two cases which addressed the public's right of access to environmental documents.

The first concerned a request to the Commission from environmental NGOs Greenpeace and Pesticide Action Network Europe for access to a number of documents relating to the initial marketing authorisation for glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world for agricultural weeding and the maintenance of urban and industrial areas.

In granting access to those documents, the Commission had made an exception of part of the draft assessment report prepared by Germany.

Its justification was that the document contained confidential information on the intellectual property rights of the applicants for the glyphosate authorisation - such as the detailed chemical composition of that substance, its manufacturing process, and the impurities and composition of the finished products.

The second case concerned the submission by a Dutch bee-protection association for disclosure of documents concerning marketing authorisations issued for certain plant protection products and biocides. Bayer, the company holding a large number of these authorisations, objected to that disclosure, on the ground that it would infringe copyright and adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information.

The Court has argued that research falls under "information on emissions into the environment", as defined under the Aarhus Convention and the EU law implementing this Convention.

Greenpeace EU's food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The ruling says that regulators must release all research used to evaluate the dangers of pesticides, and cannot keep it secret to protect industry interests. Based on the ruling, national and EU authorities should release these studies automatically, and not only following freedom of information requests. Transparency in pesticide assessments is vital, as public health and our environment are at risk.”

Hans Muilerman, Pesticide Action Network Europe chemical officer, said: “Safety tests done by industry on their own products constitute a clear conflict of interest. Disclosure of the full tests will show if the summaries presented by industry to governments agree with the outcomes of the original tests conducted.”

Greenpeace and Pesticide Action Network Europe have called for EFSA scientific opinions, which form the basis of regulatory action, to be based on publicly available scientific evidence, so that all EFSA assessments can be reproduced.

Judgments in Cases C-673/13 P Commission v Stichting Greenpeace - Nederland and PAN Europe and C-442/14 Bayer CropScience and Stichting - De Bijenstichting v College voor de toelating van gewasbeschermingsmiddelen en biociden

Document Actions