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PMFAI Support Govt’s Demand to WTO for Formulation of Guidelines to Determine Default MRLs of Pesticides

PMFAI urges the WTO to frame uniform guidelines for determining MRLs applicable to all member countries, promoting fair and science-based trade practices globally.

KJ Staff
Pradip Dave, President, Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI)
Pradip Dave, President, Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI)

The Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) has expressed support for the Indian government's demand to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the formulation of guidelines to determine default Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of pesticides based on scientific risk assessments.

PMFAI has long advocated for MRL assessments to be scientifically risk-based rather than hazard-based, a methodology employed by the European Union (EU) and some other nations. The recent rejections of Indian agricultural exports by certain countries due to non-compliance with their MRLs highlight the discrepancies in global regulations.

PMFAI highlights that MRLs are not toxicological safety standards but trading standards. These limits can be as low as 0.01 ppm, which is biologically irrelevant and does not pose a public health risk.

The SPS Agreement, part of the WTO framework, allows member countries to establish their own sanitary and phytosanitary standards based on scientific evidence. However, differing standards among countries, particularly the EU's stringent measures, create trade barriers that unfairly impact developing countries like India.

“The European Union (EU) uses unilaterally enhanced SPS measures which create trade barriers to other countries including India by imposing unreasonable standards, which are trade restrictive to exporters of developing countries. Some countries blindly follow EU policies,” said Pradip Dave, President, Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI).

“While India maintains easy to import regime, our agricultural exports face non-tariff barriers in the guise of SPS measures. None of the Indian ports tests the imported consignments for pesticide residues before allowing them for domestic consumption. FSSAI has not created the infrastructure to enable the test under the SPS Agreement and India does not reject any imported consignments on account of MRL violation.”

“This has to change and India also must subject the imported food and agri-produce consignments to the same level of MRL tests that other countries subject our exported consignments. India should also reject and return the imported consignments that do not meet our MRL standards, till the time WTO frame guidelines to determine default MRLs applicable to all WTO members,” he added.

“Other countries including EU use much more pesticides than India. India is one of the lowest pesticide-consuming countries in the world with 0.65 gm/hectare against the global average of 3 kg/hectare. Food and agricultural products imported from other countries would be carrying residues of pesticides that are not approved in India. India should not grant free and unchecked entry to them.”

PMFAI highlights that India uses significantly fewer pesticides compared to global averages, and imported food and agricultural products often carry residues of pesticides not approved in India. “But we expect World Trade Organization (WTO) to frame default guideline to determine MRLs and makes it applicable to countries all over the world. This will provide level playing field to all countries in international trade,” said Pradip Dave.

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