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PhosAgro welcomes cadmium green labelling guidelines

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World Fertilizer,

PhosAgro has welcomed the European Commission’s adoption of official guidelines on the use of voluntary green labelling for fertilizers that are free from harmful concentrations of cadmium (Cd) and other heavy metals that are hazardous to human health and soils.

The voluntary labels proposed by the European Commission are a direct outcome of the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2019/1009 on the use of agrochemicals in the EU. Adopted in June 2019 by the European Parliament and the European Council, this regulation was the result of a historic decision introduce an EU-wide ban on the trade in phosphate-based fertilizers containing hazardous levels of heavy metals and arsenic. Starting from 16 July 2022, the sale of phosphate-based fertilizers containing more than 60 mg of cadmium per kg of P2O5 will be barred throughout the EU. Moreover, in July 2026, the European Commission will consider in its next report further tightening of restrictions on cadmium.

At the same time, a number of European countries, recognising the importance of limiting cadmium content in fertilizers as early as the 1980s, unilaterally introduced stricter regulations. Such national derogations are in place in 21 EU countries, including Switzerland, where the limit for cadmium was set at 21 mg per kg of P2O5 back in 1986; in Sweden, 44 mg per kg of P2O5; the Netherlands, 31 mg per kg of P2O5; Hungary and Slovakia, 20 mg per kg of P2O5; and Finland, 22 mg per kg of P2O5.

In addition, Regulation 2019/1009 on the use of agrochemicals in the EU states that manufacturers of mineral fertilizers with cadmium content below the benchmark of 20 mg of Cd per kg of P2O5 may use a voluntary green label on their packaging.

The right to add a green label with a special symbol applies to this group of mineral fertilizers. The document published by the Commission provides detailed information on the appearance of labels and examples thereof. Declarations of the absence of cadmium concentrations harmful to human health and soil (less than 20 mg per kg of P2O5) can be presented in two possible ways: text and/or a visual representation: as one example, an image of the chemical element cadmium, Cd, is shown with a down-facing arrow alongside it.

The voluntary green labelling is in line with both the European Green Deal and the new Farm to Fork Strategy goal of limiting the impact on arable land of fertilizers with high levels of harmful contaminants. The labels underscore the Commission’s commitment to transitioning to sustainable agriculture and to maintaining healthy soils that are not contaminated with heavy metals, which, in the long term, will protect the health of plants, animals and humans, thanks to the production of higher-quality food.

The voluntary labelling will enable producers like PhosAgro to inform consumers that their products meet strict low-cadmium standards. Phosphate rock from the Murmansk region – the core of PhosAgro’s phosphate-based and NPK fertilizer production – sets quality benchmarks and adheres to the ISO 9001 quality management system as well as corporate standards for fertilizer production. Corporate standards ensure a traceability chain – from the extraction of apatite-nepheline ore to the supply to consumers of phosphate-based fertilizers that set the benchmark for cleanliness. This factor is a prerequisite for the transition to a new platform for sustainable agriculture and food systems with affordable food that has improved characteristics.

PhosAgro CEO, Andrey Guryev, said: “PhosAgro always welcomes measures to increase the transparency of fertilizer production and supply chains for end consumers. Farmers have the right to choose their crop nutrients based on all available information about their composition, especially when it comes to the absence of concentrations of toxic substances, such as cadmium, that are harmful to health and soils. And for producers of phosphate-based fertilizers around the world, additional incentives are being created to improve production technologies to ensure the sustainability of agriculture and to take care of soil fertility and public health.”

Independent Director and Chair of PhosAgro’s Sustainable Development Committee, Irina Bokova, said: “The introduction of labelling is a responsible policy in light of both the increasing demand for safe, healthy foods and the ever-growing base of scientific research that shows that reducing the concentration of cadmium in fertilizers will contribute to the long-term health of soils and reduced intake of this toxic substance into the human body through food. It is important that people, not only in the EU but all over the world, can make more informed choices when buying food, with a better understanding of what they are made of and how they are produced, and what nutrients were used for the cultivation of agricultural products.”

Xavier Rolet, Chairman of PhosAgro’s Board of Directors, said: “I welcome the fact that at a time when food supplies in numerous countries are at risk and the pandemic rages, the European Commission has maintained its unswerving focus on food safety and quality. We at PhosAgro are confident that the key beneficiaries of this green labelling decision will be the people of Europe and consumers in all those countries that import EU agricultural products.

“Playing our role to ensure global food security and the supply of healthy food is at the heart of PhosAgro’s mission and commitment to consumers in the 102 countries where the company supplies its sustainable and eco-efficient products.”

In Russia, since March last year, the cadmium content in mineral fertilizers has been regulated by the Russian national standard GOST R 58658-2019 on environmentally friendly fertilizers, and these limits are stricter than in Europe.

The maximum concentration of cadmium in mineral fertilizers approved for sale in Russia under the above-mentioned regulation is 20 mg per kg of P2O5. This national standard is included in the package of requirements for the national Green Standard, which was developed at the behest of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

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