Malta imposes immediate ban on pesticide flagged by European Food Safety Authority

Chlorpyrifos was developed in 1966 but was recently flagged by EFSA as having the potential to cause Parkinson’s Disease and affect the development of the unborn child

The Maltese government has decided to immediately ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos
The Maltese government has decided to immediately ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos

The Maltese government has decided to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, following its classification as neurotoxic by the European Food Safety Authority.

While the European Commission had not ordered the immediate ban of chlorpyrifos, the government, after consultation with stakeholders, decided to phase it out and introduce five other alternatives.

“At a time when the license for this substance is soon to be renewed, the Maltese government has decided not to extend its authorization,” parliamentary secretary for consumer rights, Deo Debattista said.

“Being a central nervous system inhibitor, it was found to be one of the causes of Parkinson’s Disease and can even affect the development of children in the womb.”

Speaking at a press conference at the Environment Ministry, Debattista said the European Commission was ordering all EU member states to phase out the substance by 2020, but Malta decided to act immediately.

Agriculture parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri said that farmers themselves had approached the government to ban the product.

“Farmers themselves told the government that they wanted their produce to be of a higher level especially because most of them eat their own produce,” he said.

Camilleri added that while Malta could take decisions on its own produce, it couldn’t stop other countries from doing so.

8% of produce that is imported to Malta, he said, comes from EU countries that are yet to ban chlorpyrifos.

A government spokesperson told MaltaToday that 13% of produce that exceeded acceptable levels of pesticide use in the past contained chlorpyrifos.

Only eight EU countries have banned this pesticide. Malta will now join them.

“There is no EU law that prohibits this pesticide but the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority is taking immediate measures to stop it because it can have negative effects on the brain and especially on children due to their development,” Joanne Borg Galea said.

Borg Galea, the MCCAA Senior Manager, said that the authority has come up with a list of alternative products, five pesticides that may replace chlorpyrifos.

These include Zelig and Decis Evo.

California is one of the states in the US that has decided to ban the use of chlorpyrifos amidst President Donald Trump’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s defence of the product.

The Maltese government has today announced that a freephone — 80072213 — has been opened to farmers where government experts will be able to guide them as to what alternatives they can use and how best to phase out the substance.