The Government continues to support the restrictions on neonicotinoids to protect pollinators, and emergency authorisations for pesticides are only granted in exceptional circumstances where diseases or pests cannot be controlled by any other reasonable means. These emergency authorisations can provide short term availability of a product if the applicant can demonstrate that this addresses a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means, that the use will be limited and controlled and that the necessary protection of people and of the environment can be achieved.
Emergency authorisations are also used by countries across Europe. I know that 10 EU countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain have granted emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments since 2018. Under EU legislation, Member States may grant emergency authorisations in exceptional circumstances. I can assure you that the UK’s approach to the use of emergency authorisations has not changed as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.
The application for the use of Syngenta’s Cruiser SB on the 2021 sugar beet crop is for England only and the duration of authorisation is strictly limited to the period required to allow supply of the product. Furthermore, sugar beet is a non-flowering crop that is only grown in the East of England.
This exceptional use of Syngenta’s Cruiser SB will be strictly controlled and conditions of the authorisation include reduced application rate as well as a prohibition on any flowering crop being planted in the same field where the product has been used within 22 months of sugar beet and a prohibition on oilseed rape being planted within 32 months of sugar beet.
Protecting pollinators remains a priority for the Government. The National Pollinator Strategy, published in 2014, is a ten-year plan which sets out how the Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of the approximately 1,500 pollinating insect species in England.
I am an animal lover and I am proud that the UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. It is right for us to cement our status as a global leader by continuing to raise the bar now we have left the EU. It is welcome that the trade agreement struck with the EU recognises that voluntary cooperation on chemicals regulation can facilitate trade in ways that benefit consumers, businesses and the environment and can contribute to enhancing the protection of human and animal health. I am pleased that the agreement also notes the UK's and the EU's commitment to facilitating the exchange of non-confidential information on the issue of chemicals.
I would like to reassure you that Ministers have stated their determination that there should be no need for any additional animal testing for a chemical that has already been registered to EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). I am pleased to tell you that the Government will recognise the validity of any animal testing that has already been undertaken and so avoid the need for further testing. The grandfathering of all existing UK-held REACH registrations into the UK system will further avoid the need to duplicate animal testing associated with re-registration.
The UK will now be able to establish its own independent chemical regime. Although both the UK and EU will operate REACH frameworks, the two systems will not be linked. This means that companies wishing to retain access to the UK market will be required to notify and submit registration data to the Health and Safety Executive to confirm the registrations and ensure compliance with UK REACH.
I am pleased that the UK has been at the forefront of opposing animal tests where alternative approaches could be used. This is known as the last-resort principle, which will be retained and enshrined in legislation through the Environment Bill.
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