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Anses has announced initiating a procedure to withdraw the main uses of phytopharmaceutical products containing the herbicidal active substance S-metolachlor. The objective is to reduce the environmental contamination by this substance and its metabolites, and to gradually restore the quality of groundwater.
S-metolachlor degrades into metabolites that migrate into soil, surface water and groundwater. During monitoring of drinking water, the metabolites metolachlor-ESA and metolachlor-NOA have been frequently detected.
In this context, and following a joint referral from three Ministries (General Directorates for food, risk prevention and health), Anses collected data and published a report in 2021 on non-compliance due to S-metolachlor metabolites. Following this report, Anses introduced in November 2021 several risk mitigation measures in the authorisations of products, notably a reduction in the maximum use rates for maize, sunflower, soybean and sorghum.
To verify the impact of these modifications, new simulations were realised, taking into account the most recent data on the active substance and its metabolites. The results are presented in a recent opinion from Anses. It shows that estimated concentrations in groundwater for metolachlor-ESA, metolachlor-OXA and metolachlor-NOA exceed the criterion of the European uniform principles for evaluating and authorising products, set at the quality limit of 0.1 µg/L.
Considering the risk of groundwater contamination by these metabolites, Anses has decided to initiate a procedure to withdraw authorisation of the main uses of plant protection products containing S-metolachlor. Grace periods could be granted for sale and use of existing stocks during a few more months.
To be noted, the active substance is currently under EU evaluation for renewal of its approval, with the EFSA conclusion expected for the beginning of 2023.
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