Federal Administrative Court, Interim Order B-3340/2020 of 15 February 2021

5 mars 2021 – The Federal Administrative Court had to decide on precautionary measures in a case between Syngenta Agro AG and the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO). In December 2019, the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) prohibited plant protection products containing chlorothalonil, whereupon Syngenta Agro AG lodged an appeal to overturn this ban in January 2020. The proceedings are currently pending before the Federal Administrative Court.

In the meantime, the FSVO stated on its website that chlorothalonil is classified as a category 1B substance due to its carcinogenic effects and that therefore all its metabolites are to be considered relevant. Syngenta Agro AG appealed against this decision, as it considered this to be an inadmissible and contradictory reclassification of both the active substance and its metabolites. The appellant filed for initial precautionary measures, claiming that he was suffering significant commercial damage as a result of the FSVO's statement. The court granted this request for precautionary measures in its first interim order of 24 August 2020 and ordered the removal of a published document prepared by the FOAG, FSVO and Agroscope on the relevancy of metabolites. The FSVO duly removed the passage from its website. However, the disputed information was subsequently included in an FSVO directive with largely identical wording. Moreover, the four metabolites were still designated as relevant in the updated version of the document. Therefore, the appellant filed new requests for precautionary measures in September 2020. The court has now granted these precautionary measures and ordered the FSVO to immediately remove the directive and the document from the Internet. The FSVO must also inform the Federal Office for the Environment that the classification of the four metabolites is still under dispute.

For the full decision, see here.