6.  Establish an international pesticide assessment fee structure to cover research, risk assessment and organisational costs. Fees would be required for new products and regular reassessments.

A new structure to make it safe

A single fee for assessment or reassessment would enable the new Agency to contract out the required studies to a truly independent laboratory. Perhaps 

A one off, pre-paid fee, paid for by the registrant (pesticide corporation) to cover the costs of toxicity reassessment.  The fee would incorporate the costs of administration, long and short term research studies, review of other submitted studies, risk assessment and final international authorisation for pesticide use.  

This fee would be for the initial assessment for a new pesticide, and for 12 year reassessments.  (Reassessments may happen every 5 years if significant new research showing adverse effects emerges). 

Multi-national companies promote similar products internationally. Frequently products only differ where there is a restriction for a chemical. This is rare. The regulatory burden would be shared across countries whether for pre-market risk assessment for new products, or reassessment.

A fee structure would give freedom to conduct independent research that is structured in the interests of the global public.

How does the current system work?

The current fee structures for pesticides assessment with the international Agencies are not transparent. A fee is normally paid for a new product assessment, however it appears re-assessment may be funded from the organisation carrying out the enquiry.

Pesticides organisations (registrants/sponsors/applicants) are requested to supply the safety studies for new pesticides assessment and reassessment every 12 -15 years.

Corporations can select, from their studies, the best studies that show low or no toxicity. (Law professor Jane Kelsey describes this as a risk-tolerant disclosure-based model). [1]  It is in the interests of the corporation to show low toxicity, to ensure that higher residues can exist on retail product including fruit/vegetable/cereal. Corporations can therefore sell more chemical formulation per acre/hectare.

The corporations can also select from public domain studies the most ‘suitable’ studies to contribute.

Industry contracted laboratories carrying out research for pesticides corporations may be dependent on future contract work. Displeasing studies may not help with future contracts.  Currently laboratories may provide all the studies to the pesticide corporations, who can then cherry pick and choose the best studies to forward on.

Many studies are conducted in the pesticides corporations own laboratories.  Many of the laboratories that existed when earlier studies were carried out do not exist any more, so it is difficult to access further information.

Studies supplied by pesticides corporations are privately held. Commercial confidentiality agreements for 'investment protection' are made between industry and it's representative organisations and the World Health Organisation, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission which work to keep these studies secret.  If the studies were required to be published, and raw data to be disclosed, the research would have to fulfil the scientific criteria of being replicable. Currently this does not apply. 

The regulatory system is effectively captured by an industry that has full awareness of the toxicity of its commercial product, yet has choice over which studies to disclose.

 

[1] J.Kelsey. The Fire Economy. Bridget Williams Books & the New Zealand Law Foundation. 2015

[2] Corporate Europe Observatory. June 2016. Glyphosate: the pesticide industry keeps the data secrecy scandal going in the name of 'investment protection'

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