History in brief

After the Second World War, crop yields improved thanks to chemical pesticides. They increased food production for a growing world population. Effective biocides to be used for pest management, as preservatives and as disinfectants, became widely available. At the end of the 1950s, a worldwide awareness started to develop that, despite the benefits of pesticides, they also had their downsides in terms of associated health risks and environmental damage. There was a lack of monitoring and control, and this is why the Dutch Lower House passed the Pesticides Act in 1962. A committee of scientists was appointed to advise the government, supported by a secretarial office: the Bureau Bestrijdingsmiddelen (Pesticides Agency). This is where the history of the current Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb) starts.

What began as a secretarial office with a few employees has grown over the last 50 years into today’s independent administrative body: the Dutch authorisation body for plant protection products and biocides, with about 150 employees in 2016. While at the turn of the century it still had the feel of a small company where Christmas parties were held at the director’s own house, it is now a professional organisation that tries to hold on to the easy-going nature and warm relationships of the early days, and likewise an organisation that has always represented quality. The Ctgb assesses the risk to people, animals and the environment presented by plant protection products and biocides. If these risks fall within the safety margins applicable in Europe and the Netherlands (assuming correct use of the product), the Board authorises the product’s use.

The Ctgb is an independent and impartial agency that acts as an intermediary between the general public, society, industry and politicians, farmers and producers, pest management professionals and infection control specialists, all of whom need to be able to rely on and trust the Ctgb. Although complex, the assessment procedure is therefore transparent, verifiable and open to public consultation, in so far as data protection regulations allow. It is possible for anyone to examine the Ctgb’s assessment procedure and to follow its decision-making process. The Ctgb also advocates close cooperation at the European level, to ensure that the plant protection products and biocides that are available in each country do not present any risks to people, animals and the environment.