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Restrictive Measures on the Use and Sale of Plant Protection Products Containing the Active Ingredient Metaldehyde in Malta

OPEN CONSULTATION  

   
 
From: Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights
Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection
(Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority) 
​Published: 6 January 2021
Running till: 8 February 2021
​Last Updated: 6 January 2021

1.        Background​

Metaldehyde

This active substance is used in plant protection products to control slugs and snails is approved for use within the European Union in line with Commission Implementing Directive 2011/54/EU of 20 April 2011 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include metaldehyde as active substance and amending Commission Decision 2008/934/EC.

The active substance is very important for the agricultural industry since slugs and snails are pests which have negative impact on the agricultural produce in Malta. Slugs and snails use slime to travel. A humid environment makes it ideal for them since they need to secrete less slime to travel. As a result, slugs and snails prefer to travel after rainstorms, after irrigation and during the night.

Slugs and snails thrive in climates where the humidity is 65% or higher. The average annual percentage of humidity in Malta is 76.0%, thus making the climate an ideal one for them.


Misuse of Metaldehyde

Numerous incidents have been reported where plant protection products containing the active substance metaldehyde were used to poison domestic animals such as dogs and cats. When these animals ingest the pellets, toxicity develops very quickly. Signs of poisoning typically include vomiting, as a result of the metaldehyde irritating the lining of the stomach. Following such symptoms, the animals may become anxious and suffer from a fast heartbeat, increased breathing rates, salivation, tremors and ultimately organ failure.

Such incidents have taken place in public areas such as parks and streets. Pets have been poisoned during a walk or outing by the owners when ingesting metaldehyde pellets which would have been scattered in the different areas. Other incidents occurred also on stray animals, where food was spiked with metaldehyde pellets. Most of such incidents result in a long and painful death for the animals.

In addition, to the high risk imposed on pets and stray animals as a result of the misuse of these plant protection products, consideration should be taken that such uses could result in accidental poisoning of children. This is especially because most of the incidents happen in parks or other public areas. Young children tend to pick up things from the ground and place them in their mouths. Such practice may result in the ingestion of the pellets and eventual accidental poisoning of the child.


Proposed restrictive measures

In accordance with the Sustainable Use
of Pesticides Regulations (S.L 430.08) and in line with the  precautionary principle in restricting the use and of plant protection products containing metaldehyde, it is being proposed that the use and sale of these products will be restricted to professional users certified in line with Regulation 4(3) of S.L 430.08.


Since the use of plant protection products containing the active substance metaldehyde will be restricted to professional users only, the sale and distribution of these products shall be restricted to distributors certified in line with Regulation 4(3) of S.L 430.08.



2.        Documents
3.        Submission of input
 
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