SCS Global Services: Reviewing Temporary Pesticide Exemption Requests

Sustainable Food Group supports SCS Global Services’ Sustainably Grown Certification program, specifically the temporary exemption procedure for prohibited pesticides. 


SCS Global Services has been working on sustainability certifications since 1984, when sustainability was barely on the global radar. Within their Sustainably Grown program, SCS Global Services maintains a Pesticide Policy. This policy includes a Prohibited Pesticides Reference List with pesticides identified as high risk by the World Health Organization, the Globally Harmonized System, UN Environment Program, and Pesticide Action Network. Ideally, all certified growers would be able to phase out the use of prohibited pesticides immediately. Since that is not always possible, SCS Global Services allows clients to request temporary exemptions for Prohibited Pesticides. If granted, these temporary exceptions allow the use of pesticides that are critical to producing a crop when no alternatives exist. They can provide time for growers to identify, trial, and implement lower-risk pest management practices.


Sustainable Food Group reviews requests from SCS Global Services’ clients to temporarily use prohibited pesticides. As part of the application process, growers complete a Pesticide Risk Tool (PRT) analysis to better understand risks resulting from the pesticide application. In 2008, the Pesticide Risk Tool (PRT) was developed by our parent organization, IPM Institute of North America, in collaboration with scientists. PRT provides users with an estimate for 15 risks including workers, consumers, bystanders, pollinators, and other non-target organisms. The Sustainable Food Group team reviews each request, assessing potential alternative management strategies for the target pest and risk mitigation strategies to reduce the risks identified by PRT. Then, Sustainable Food Group recommends either granting or not granting the temporary exemption and offers specific risk mitigation strategies if the exemption is granted. If the request is granted, the grower can maintain their Sustainably Grown certification while they trial and implement lower-risk alternatives to the prohibited pesticide.


Since we began working with SCS Global Services in 2017, we have reviewed over 80 temporary exemption requests. In just three years, some growers have already been able to successfully phase out the use of prohibited pesticides. When commenting on their experience working with Sustainable Food Group, SCS Global Services said, “Sustainable Food Group has been instrumental in the global implementation of the Sustainably Grown certification program’s pesticide policy. Their expert knowledge in sustainable agriculture combined with an attention to detail in researching, reviewing, and reporting has proven invaluable.”