Feds scrap ‘conditional’ pesticide approvals

Federal crop chemical regulators this summer will stop granting “conditional” registrations for new pesticides — a practice already largely on the way out, they note.

Health Canada, which oversees the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), said Tuesday it plans to stop granting new conditional registrations starting June 1, describing the move as an “important step in improving the openness and transparency of Canada’s pesticide regulatory system.”

Conditional registrations have previously been granted “on occasion,” Health Canada said, when a scientific review of a new product finds its risks are acceptable but also that “additional confirmatory information” is needed.

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Conditional registrations, unlike full registrations, don’t undergo public consultations until either amended, renewed or converted to a full registration, after that “additional information” goes through PMRA review.

Additional information, for example, could include environmental monitoring data to confirm whether assumptions made at the time of registration were correct.

“Moving away from conditional registrations will provide reassurance that all pesticide registration decisions are made with the same high level of scientific and public scrutiny,” Health Canada said Tuesday.

Pierre Petelle, vice-president of chemistry for CropLife Canada, the trade association for Canada’s pesticide and plant biotech sectors, said Wednesday the group hopes Health Canada’s move “will help increase the public’s confidence in Canada’s world-class regulatory system.”

“It’s important to note that conditional registrations are not a matter of health and safety,” he said, as conditionally-registered products pass “thorough” health and safety assessments.

Conditional registrations, he said, have “long been misunderstood” and the group hopes Health Canada “will continue to deliver on its commitment to a predictable, science-based regulatory system.”

A notice of intent on conditional registrations has been posted on Health Canada’s website for public comment until March 19.

The change in approach is expected to have “minimal” effect, the agency said. Conditional registrations have “decreased substantially” to the point where they represent about one per cent of all registered products.

There will be “no impact on the process by which applicants apply for and obtain a full registration,” Health Canada said.

The decision follows a statutory review, tabled last April, of the federal Pest Control Products Act. The review recommended PMRA “review the use of conditions of registration to ensure that they are being used in a manner that protects the health of Canadians and their environment.”

In the government’s response to the review later that year, then-Health Minister Rona Ambrose said PMRA was already reviewing the use of conditional registrations to either “reduce or eliminate” them and to clarify requirements for approvals.

Since 2006, she wrote, the number of conditional registrations dropped “significantly,” from 13 per cent of decisions in 2006-07, down to two per cent in 2013-14. — AGCanada.com Network

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