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Risk indicators for monitoring progress in the reduction of risk and adverse impacts of plant protection products

The European Commission established two harmonised risk indicators for the European Union for monitoring progress in the reduction of risk and adverse effects of plant protection products (PPPs). Indicator 1 is based on the quantities of PPPs sold in Member States, while indicator 2 is based on the number of emergency authorisations for the use of PPPs. The European Commission plans the introduction of additional risk indicators in the future years.

Calculation of risk indicators

Since 2019, the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection has been obliged to monitor progress in reducing risk and adverse effects of PPPs on health and the environment according to the methodology adopted by the EU. This is determined by the Commission Directive (EU) 2019/782 of 15 May 2019 amending Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the establishment of harmonised risk indicators. To this end, two risk indicators used for monitoring progress must be calculated. Harmonised risk indicators have been established by the European Commission and apply throughout the EU.

Indicator 1 is calculated on the basis of statistical data on quantities of active substances in PPPs placed on the market.

Indicator 2 is calculated on the basis of the number of emergency authorisations for the use of PPPs. 

The indicators for the 2011–2019 period were calculated by the European Commission on the basis of the data sent by Slovenia. The European Commission calculates common risk indicators for the EU from the data sent by the Member States and publishes them on its website in relation to sustainable use of pesticides. 

Calculation of risk indicators for Slovenia

  • • EUROSTAT risk indicators

    The Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT) calculated risk indicators 1 and 2 for Slovenia based on the data of the sales of PPPs and number of emergency authorisations for the use of PPPs sent to the European Commission.

Risk indicator 1

Based on their properties, active substances in PPPs are categorised into four groups, which are further divided into seven categories.

Risk indicator 1 is calculated by adding up the annual quantities of active substances in PPPs marketed in the Republic of Slovenia. These active substances are then divided in four groups and seven categories, and quantities sold by these categories are added up. The sums are multiplied by a weighted factor from the methodology of risk factor calculation, and the results of these calculations are then combined.

The baseline for progress monitoring was established by the European Commission as the average value of PPP sales in the 2011–2013 period and marked by a value of 100. The quantities of PPPs sold in the following years will therefore be evaluated in relation to the baseline value of 100. 

Table 1: Evolution of the overall weighted index, with a baseline of 100, average in 2011-2013

2011-2013 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Harmonised Risk Indicator 1 100 111 99 90 99 103 113 103 109 81

The table and graph show that sales of PPPs are slightly above or below the average for the period from 2011 to 2013, and in 2019 we recorded the lowest sales so far, which can be attributed to the extremely dry year and the corresponding lower consumption of fungicides in permanent crops. Permanent crops (orchards and vineyards) otherwise represent over 90% of all fungicide consumption in Slovenia, therefore the fluctuations in sales depend on weather conditions in individual seasons.

Sales of PPPs in Slovenia fluctuate and depend on weather conditions, the pressure of harmful organisms, the type of active substances in the PPPs and economic reasons, such as the price of the preparations. Consumption of PPPs in agriculture cannot be equated with the sale of PPPs in Slovenia, as certain active substances can also be used in other areas, e.g. for the maintenance of public areas, including roads and railways. The need to use PPPs also strongly depends on weather conditions, as the quantitative consumption of PPPs is up to 20% influenced by the weather. All purchased quantities are not used in the current year, they can remain in stock at the grower for use in the next year.

The largest share in the value of the harmonized risk indicator 1 over the years is contributed by sulfur, it namely represents 36% of all chemical pesticides sold in 2018 and 35% of all chemical pesticides sold in 2019. Sulfur is mostly used in permanent crops. In 2018 and 2019, copper, paraffin oil and potassium hydrogen carbonate together contributeed about 8% to the value of the risk indicator. Sulfur and other listed substances, which together contribute more than 40% of all chemical pesticides sold, are substances that are also and mainly used in organic farming and at the same time represent basic plant protection in cases where we do not have other suitable substances. In addition, in the case of sulfur, the quantitative consumption per area is significantly higher compared to other chemical pesticides, and therefore it also contributes the most to the value of the risk indicator. The same applies to copper, which is a substance that is also a candidate for substitution and therefore its use must be significantly reduced in accordance with the requirements of the Farm to fork strategy. It would make sense for substances such as sulfur and copper to be evaluated differently (using a different weighting factor), otherwise the goals of increasing the area under organic farming are at odds with the goals of reducing the risk and use of chemical pesticides and especially candidates for substitution.

Table 2: Evolution of each of the 4 Groups, with a baseline of 100, average in 2011-2013

Group 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
1 129 57 114 272 344 292 116 160 328
2 110 101 89 99 101 111 106 113 97
3 110 92 98 106 123 149 131 166 116
4 114 97 88 99 99 97 76 60 0

1. Group 1 contains active substances approved in the EU and which, from a chemical aspect, pose a low risk for human health and the environment.
2. Group 2 contains active substances approved in the EU and are not defined as low-risk substances or candidates for substitution.
3. Group 3 contains active substances approved in the EU and are problematic from a chemical aspect, meaning they are candidates for substitution.
4. Group 4 contains active substances that may no longer be used in PPPs in the EU. These are substances that are not approved in the EU but may be sold in Member States until the expiry of the deadline for the sale of stocks.

1. Group 1 contains active substances approved in the EU and which, from a chemical aspect, pose a low risk for human health and the environment.
2. Group 2 contains active substances approved in the EU and are not defined as low-risk substances or candidates for substitution.
3. Group 3 contains active substances approved in the EU and are problematic from a chemical aspect, meaning they are candidates for substitution.
4. Group 4 contains active substances that may no longer be used in PPPs in the EU. These are substances that are not approved in the EU but may be sold in Member States until the expiry of the deadline for the sale of stocks.

Table 3: Evolution of each of the 7 Categories, with a baseline of 100, average in 2011-2013

Category 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
B 129 57 114 272 344 292 116 160 328
C 123 82 95 1044 207 244 274 543 699
D 110 101 89 99 101 111 106 113 97
E 109 91 100 108 125 153 130 148 112
F 124 99 77 75 87 91 138 416 172
G 114 97 88 99 99 97 76 60 0

A. Category A contains all active substances based on microorganisms and which, from a chemical aspect, pose a low risk for human health and the environment. Because there are insufficient data to calculate values, the values for this category ar not specified.
B. Category B contains all chemical active substances that pose a low risk for human health and the environment.
C. Category C contains active substances based on microorganisms and are not defined as low-risk substances or candidates for substitution.
D. Category D contains all chemical active substances that are approved in the EU and are not defined as low-risk substances or candidates for substitution.
E. Category E contains active substances approved in the EU and which are problematic from a chemical aspect while not being defined as cancerogenous substances of Category 1A or 1B, and/or substances toxic for reproduction of Category 1A or 1B, and/or as endocrine disruptors.
F. Category F contains active substances approved in the EU and problematic from a chemical aspect while being defined as cancerogenous substances of Category 1A or 1B, and/or substances toxic for reproduction of Category 1A or 1B, and/or as endocrine disruptors where exposure of humans is negligible.
G. Category G contains all active substances that may no longer be used in PPPs in the EU. These are substances that are not approved in the EU but may be sold in Member States in the transitional period until the expiry of the deadline for the sale of PPPs stocks.

A. Category A contains all active substances based on microorganisms and which, from a chemical aspect, pose a low risk for human health and the environment. Because there are insufficient data to calculate values, the values for this category ar not specified.
B. Category B contains all chemical active substances that pose a low risk for human health and the environment.
C. Category C contains active substances based on microorganisms and are not defined as low-risk substances or candidates for substitution.
D. Category D contains all chemical active substances that are approved in the EU and are not defined as low-risk substances or candidates for substitution.
E. Category E contains active substances approved in the EU and which are problematic from a chemical aspect while not being defined as cancerogenous substances of Category 1A or 1B, and/or substances toxic for reproduction of Category 1A or 1B, and/or as endocrine disruptors.
F. Category F contains active substances approved in the EU and problematic from a chemical aspect while being defined as cancerogenous substances of Category 1A or 1B, and/or substances toxic for reproduction of Category 1A or 1B, and/or as endocrine disruptors where exposure of humans is negligible.
G. Category G contains all active substances that may no longer be used in PPPs in the EU. These are substances that are not approved in the EU but may be sold in Member States in the transitional period until the expiry of the deadline for the sale of PPPs stocks.

Risk indicator 2

Indicator 2 is calculated on the basis of the number of emergency authorisations for the use of PPPs granted in the current year. The data were calculated on the basis of active substances in PPPs categorised in four groups and seven categories. The data were added up by categories, multiplied by the weighted factor and then combined. 

Table 4: Evolution of the overall weighted index, with a baseline of 100, average in 2011-2013

2011-2013 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Harmonised Risk Indicator 2 100 35 88 176 176 88 212 212 141 229

The table and graph show that the total number of emergency authorisations has increased in recent years. On the one hand, the decisive factor for this is the fact that Slovenia represents a small market, which is reflected in the gaps in regular approvals due to the lack of investor interest. On the other hand, the increase in the indicator is also influenced by the small number of newly approved active substances, the pressure of harmful organisms and the emergence of new types of harmful organisms, mainly due to Slovenia's location (proximity to the sea and southern zone countries).

Emergency authorisations also played an important role in organic farming in Slovenia. About 30% of emergency authorisations issued in 2019 relate to the use in organic farming. In 2019, we issued a total of 11 emergency authorisations.