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How much is too much? Lords to question minister on cadmium levels in fertilisers

The House of Lords European Union Committee will this week take evidence from George Eustice, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at DEFRA on EU proposals to change the regulation of fertilisers.

The Committee will ask Mr Eustice to clarify the Government's position on the levels of Cadmium - which can be damaging to the environment and human health - that should be allowed in fertilisers that are marketed in the EU.

The Committee has been corresponding with Mr Eustice on the EU Proposal regarding the putting on the market of CE marked fertilisers  since May last year but has been unable to secure satisfactory answers on the Government's position regarding cadmium limits and the scientific assessments that underpin them, so the Committee has now asked Mr Eustice to provide clarity on the outstanding issues.

Mr Eustice will be joined in giving evidence by Sarah Church, Director of Future Farming and Land Use at DEFRA. The session will start at 10:30am on Wednesday 18 January and will be held in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

Questions the Committee will put to the witnesses include:

  • What is the current position of European Council on the issue and are there any substantial changes to the Proposal?
  • Why does the Government favour a cadmium limit of 80mg/kg as opposed to 60mg/kg?
  • What scientific assessments if the impact and safe levels of cadmium are ongoing and how will this inform the negotiation through supplementary analysis? Are there concerns about limited data on this issue?
  • What assessment has the Food Standard Agency made of the risk of human exposure to cadmium-containing food or soil?
  • Is a precautionary approach to cadmium required given the gaps in the knowledge about safe levels and whether it is likely to end up in the food chain?

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