Global Uptick in Pesticide/Herbicide Restrictions Could Disrupt Trade

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) is keeping a close eye on the changing regulatory environment governing the import of different pesticide/herbicide products. This is an issue that has been brewing for some time but recent health concerns are increasingly translating into import bans on the products themselves and the announcement or notification of intent to lower tolerances or maximum residue levels (MRLs) on imported agricultural products. So far Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, China and the European Union have all announced varying degrees of intent to revisit tolerance levels. This includes precautionary principles (Mexico), future intentions as part of a new Green Deal (EU), and actual notifications to the WTO (China), which is the last step in making a new tolerance level official.
The USDBC has long encouraged that countries follow harmonized MRLs as set by Codex but that no longer seems to be an acceptable standard in many of our export markets. Before a notification is made to the WTO and becomes final, the U.S. agricultural community always has the chance to submit commentary but this may or may not alter the course of the intention to lower an MRL. While not all of these affect the U.S. dry bean industry, this is generally a concerning trend as it moves away from harmonization and Codex and could be disruptive to trade. Right now, the USDBC is in an information gathering stage at this point and is planning a new research and advocacy initiative focused on global MRLs for late 2020/21.