HC Deb 12 November 1998 vol 319 cc320-2W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what reasons the names of applicants and the dates and the entire contents of applications for pesticide approvals are regarded as commercially confidential; and for what reasons the public is excluded from participating in decisions on such applications. [59046]

Mr. Rooker

[holding answer 10 November 1998]: While an application for pesticide approval is under evaluation, all the details are considered commercially confidential because there are considerable commercial interests at stake. If a company knows that a competitor has made an application for approval of a particular product, it will be able to anticipate when that product may come to the market and will be in a strong position to respond. In effect, the advance marketing plans for companies would be made known to competitors and customers.

If and when an approval is granted, the name of the approval holder, the product's name and its active ingredient or ingredients are included in the published notice. When an active ingredient is first approved, or when an existing one has been reviewed, we provide access to supporting data. Following the passage of the Pesticides Act 1998, we have consulted on proposals for further improving access to information on pesticides. One of these proposals is to allow access to the bulk of the data supporting applications for approval of individual products.

Decisions on applications for pesticide approvals are taken within a framework of UK and EU legislation and published rules. Decisions on individual applications are carried out within this framework, which requires consistent application of scientific standards for human and environmental safety and for efficacy. Ministers

are guided in these matters by the Advisory Committee on Pesticides whose membership was recently expanded to include two lay members. The purpose of appointing lay members is to ensure that the Committee frames its advice in the light of the views of the general public.