France withdraws pesticide authorisations due to health risks

France has decided to withdraw marketing authorisations for the pesticide metam-sodium due to concerns relating to risk to human health and the environment.

The French Agency for Food Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) made the announcement of its intentions earlier today (Monday, November 5).

Following the substance’s approval at European level, ANSES reassessed the dossiers and notified the industrial companies concerned of its intention to withdraw all marketing authorisations for metam-sodium products.

ANSES also urged professional users to report any adverse effects on humans or the environment involving a plant protection product.

Metam-sodium is an active substance found in plant protection products used to control pests such as soil fungi or nematodes – soil-dwelling worms, some of which attack crops.

These products are used to disinfect the soil before a crop is planted, mainly on market gardening crops such as lamb’s lettuce and tomatoes, and in horticulture.

Although these products are applied to small areas in open fields or greenhouses, they need to be used in large quantities to be effective.

They are therefore applied at a rate of between 300L and 1,200L/ha – meaning that nearly 700t of the pesticide are used in France each year, according to the agency.

Following the active substance’s approval at European level, ANSES reviewed all the marketing authorisations for products containing metam-sodium in France.

It assessed the risks to human health and the environment associated with each use of the products, considering their conditions of use.

After reassessment, ANSES concluded that all of these uses represented a risk to human health and the environment.

The agency subsequently notified the industrial companies concerned of its intention to withdraw the marketing authorisations for all metam-sodium products.

Moreover, recent poisoning events involving local residents and professionals have demonstrated the importance of reporting any adverse events related to the use of plant protection products, the authority added.