Biodiversity plays a fundamental role in maintaining the health of our ecosystems and the well-being of humans.
Due to pressing global challenges, most notably climate change and ongoing urban land take, there is an increased emphasis on preserving biodiversity and growing awareness of its significance.
Agriculture and biodiversity are inextricably intertwined, for example, healthy crops require fertile soils and beneficial insects such as pollinators. Maintaining productive crops generally requires crop protection products, such as glyphosate. These products play a crucial role in helping to manage and mitigate the impact of various pests, diseases, and weeds that can negatively affect crop yield and quality.
While there is an ongoing discussion on approaches to assess indirect effects of crop protection products via trophic interactions on biodiversity, currently, there are no internationally agreed guidelines for risk assessments and a lack of agreed specific protection goals. Despite the absence of EFSA guidance, the Glyphosate Renewal Group (GRG) was asked by the Assessment Group on Glyphosat (AGG) to address this important topic in its renewal dossier.
In the 2020 glyphosate dossier, the GRG submitted an ecological risk assessment that demonstrates acceptably low risk of indirect effects off-field, following in-field applications made according to the proposed Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
EFSA’s conclusions of its peer review of the ecological risk assessment for glyphosate acknowledged the lack of agreed specific protection goals at the EU level and that the available information does not allow firm conclusions to be drawn on this aspect of the risk assessment. It further concluded that risk managers at the Member State level should consider the need for and effectiveness of risk mitigation measures (e.g., compensatory measures) in agriculturally intensive environments.
Given differences in species habitat requirements across the EU and the need to tailor mitigation measures for the country and species, the GRG agrees that minimizing the potential for indirect effects via trophic interactions, primarily resulting from effective in-field weed control, should be handled responsibly by risk managers at the Member State levels.