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December 9, 2013

ECHA Launches First Public Consultation on a New Active Substance under the Biocidal Products Regulation

The ACTA Group

In what may be a test case for the future of neonicotinoids, the first public consultation launched by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for a new active substance under the 2013 Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) will address dinotefuran (CAS Number 165252-70-0), a neonicotinoid insecticide. According to ECHA’s November 29, 2013, announcement, dinotefuran will be considered as a candidate for substitution under criteria set out in Article 10 of the BPR that are based on the intrinsic hazardous properties in combination with the use and potential exposure. Biocidal products containing an active substance that is a candidate for substitution will be subject to a comparative assessment and will be authorized only if there are no better alternatives. After a period of time (typically ten years), the substance would no longer be approved for the specified use. More information is available online.

During the assessment period preceding the public consultation, the United Kingdom Competent Authority (Health and Safety Executive) determined that dinotefuran meets the criteria for Persistent and Toxic substances, under the definition of the BPR. A range of expert opinions from environmental groups and others are expected to be submitted to ECHA during the public consultation period, following which all non-confidential information that was submitted will be made public.

Dinotefuran is a neonicotinoid insecticide, a category that has previously attracted a negative reputation due to public perception of the negative effect on bees and other pollinating insect populations. The European Commission is already restricting the use of this type of insecticides (see online), and it is likely that these restrictions will be applied to dinotefuran. The insecticide also was the focus of media attention after a significant bee kill incident in the United States in June 2013, when 50,000 bumble bees were found dead following a dinotefuran application to trees surrounding a retail store parking lot. Critics of neonicotinoid products claimed this incident was “the largest bee kill incident ever recorded [in the U.S.].” While the application in that instance appeared to be contrary to the current U.S. label instructions on the product, the incident certainly will be mentioned in the public comments as the European Union (EU) considers whether to approve dinotefuran.

The public consultation lasts 60 days and will close on January 28, 2014. If dinotefuran is granted an authorisation, it will become legal to place approved biocidal products containing dinotefuran on the EU market.