Dimethoate, an insecticide widely used to protect crops such as cherries, could be harmful to humans, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which advises EU policymakers, said on April 12.
The report follows a request from France, which is calling for a Europe-wide ban of the substance made by companies including Germany’s BASF and Cheminova, part of FMC. Neither firm had immediate comment.
The substance is found in products used on a range of fruit and vegetables, but France raised particular concerns about cherries for which it is used to combat fruit flies.
According to EFSA, there is a lack of information, but it said it could not exclude “a potential long-term consumer health risk resulting from residues.” It cited concerns about toxicity for human health and some U.S. scientific research has found a cancer risk.
France in February banned on its soil a dimethoate-based pesticide used to treat cherries, prompting an outcry from French farmers who say there is no viable alternative.
In a statement on April 11, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll called for emergency EU-wide measures to prevent the use of products containing dimethoate and the marketing of cherries grown using them.
A European Commission spokesman said the Commission would analyze the report and it would be debated at a closed-door meeting of experts representing the 28 EU member states on April 15.