On 13 July 2017, the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted to support the use of safer phosphate-based fertilisers for EU countries. The rules approved by the Committee would, inter alia:

  • Establish EU-wide quality, safety and environmental criteria for “CE marked” fertilisers (i.e. those which can be traded in the whole EU single market),

  • provide for clearer labelling requirements to better inform farmers and consumers

These measures aim to increase farmer and consumer awareness about potentially hazardous impurities contained in certain fertilisers, including cadmium, which is present in certain phosphate-based fertilisers. More information on the vote is available here.

The new IMCO rules complement measures approved on 30 May 2017 by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which would subject phosphate-based fertilisers sold in the EU to a maximum cadmium content of 60 mg of cadmium per kg of P2O5 as of the date of the application of the regulation. After three years, this limit would drop to 40 mg/kg, and after nine years the maximum limit would decrease to 20 mg/kg. The full list of proposals is available here.

New, preliminary modelling research shows that cadmium levels in EU agricultural soils could be brought down to more sustainable levels by reducing the amount of this heavy metal introduced via phosphate-based fertilisers.