Reforming EU Pesticides Regulation, Rebuilding Public Support: Evidence from Survey Experiments in Six Member States

66 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2021

See all articles by Jonathan Zeitlin

Jonathan Zeitlin

University of Amsterdam

Maria Weimer

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance, University of Amsterdam

David van der Duin

Ghent University

Theresa Kuhn

University of Amsterdam

Martin Jensen

Independent

Date Written: June 8, 2021

Abstract

The authorization and use of pesticides in the European Union (EU) have become increasingly controversial and politically salient over the past decade. In particular the European Commission’s decision to re-authorize the use of glyphosate, the active substance in Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup, after it had been classified a ‘probable human carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was highly controversial and triggered a lively debate on how to reform EU pesticide regulation. In this policy report, we assess whether and how specific reforms to decision-making procedures could impact public support for EU pesticides regulation, including acceptance of authorization decisions on controversial substances such as glyphosate. To do so, we first identified the main challenges of European pesticides regulation exposed by recent developments, including (but not limited to) the glyphosate controversy, as well as the actual and potential reforms proposed by the EU institutions, civil society organizations, academic commentators, and other stakeholders. We grouped these challenges and related reform proposals into four dimensions, namely: 1) the organization of the decision-making process; 2) the factors considered when authorizing pesticides; 3) sources of evidence and potential conflicts of interest; and 4) post-market monitoring and review of authorized pesticides. We then conducted a pair of linked online survey experiments on public attitudes toward reform of EU pesticides regulation in June 2020 among a representative sample of the adult population in six Member States (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden, n=9022). Our results show that the introduction of systematic post-authorization monitoring and review, and consideration of all relevant scientific studies in the authorization decision are the two most promising reforms to increase public support for pesticides regulation. Moreover, if a hypothetical glyphosate authorization decision is taken under a decision-making procedure that citizens (strongly) support, they are more likely to accept it even if they previously opposed this outcome. Our findings are particularly relevant given that glyphosate is currently again undergoing a renewal procedure in the EU.

Keywords: European Union, risk regulation, governance, pesticides, decision making, public opinion

Suggested Citation

Zeitlin, Jonathan and Weimer, Maria and van der Duin, David and Kuhn, Theresa and Jensen, Martin Dybdahl, Reforming EU Pesticides Regulation, Rebuilding Public Support: Evidence from Survey Experiments in Six Member States (June 8, 2021). Amsterdam Centre for European Studies Research Paper No. 2021/03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3862421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3862421

Jonathan Zeitlin (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Amsterdam Roeterseilandcampus
Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Amsterdam, 1018 WV
Netherlands

Maria Weimer

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance, University of Amsterdam ( email )

P.O.Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA
Netherlands

David Van der Duin

Ghent University ( email )

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

Theresa Kuhn

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Martin Dybdahl Jensen

Independent ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
87
Abstract Views
468
rank
364,073
PlumX Metrics