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Reducing the use of pesticides before new Commission mandate

Since it was launched in 2019, the European Green Deal (EGD) has represented a comprehensive package of policies aiming at a holistic change towards climate neutrality. It includes every segment of our economy, including sustainable farming and biodiversity recovery.

The Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, adopted by the European Commission in 2020 as part of the EGD package, set EU wide targets to reduce by 50% the use and the risk of chemical pesticides, as well as the use of the more hazardous pesticides by 2030.

The proposal on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation is essential as it follows science-based recommendations by setting the path to reduce the use of pesticides. In practice it aims to avoid ecosystem collapse, severe damages to pollinators, as well as public health problems to farmers and EU citizens at large. Furthermore, it is a crucial element of the transition towards sustainable food systems.

The EGD cannot be only about reducing CO2 emissions. The revision of the EU pesticides regulation will be one of the first pieces of legislation that will embody this idea. Yet, it is also the most threatened piece of legislation of the EGD agenda. Should the debate drag on indefinitely, there’s a real risk to postponing a much needed and urgent piece of legislation into the next mandate, without any guarantee that a supportive political leadership will back it up and deliver it.

IEEP calls on European policymakers to be ambitious and to adopt a clear reduction target in the use of pesticides before the end of the current EU mandate. The European Commission has the power and the political leverage to defend the EGD. With the full support of science, citizens, business and the civil society, it should continue its work to promote the EGD agenda and its resilience.

The EU has demonstrated its ability to surpass many stress tests, and there is no reason why this one should be different. Pushing forward this legislative agenda will improve the life of millions of EU citizens and farmers. It will protect them from some of the more toxic production and consumption patterns and enable a swift transition to healthier food systems.

The European Commission together with the progressive Member States and MEPs championing the Green Deal must remain the true rail guards of the EGD and defend the approval and adoption of the pesticides’ regulation.

Eero Yrjö-Koskinen, IEEP Executive Director

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

Additional readings:

Environmental degradation: Impacts on agricultural production

Exploring the benefits of biocontrol for sustainable agriculture

How to align the Green Deal’s pesticide and fertiliser reduction targets with Europe’s R&I needs

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