Progress towards the reduction of pesticides in the European Union

The European Commission has published on July 10 its response to the Council’s request for more information on the sustainable use of plant protection products. In it, he confirms that the pesticide reduction objectives contained in the regulation proposal on the sustainable use of these products do not compromise food safety.

This conclusion “is not altered by the negative short-term effects of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine”, the Commission states. On the contrary, it is reiterated that failure to meet the pesticide reduction target could have “long-term and potentially irreversible effects on our food security in the future.”

The study also reveals that Member States have already made considerable progress towards meeting the targets. As confirmed in an annual update on pesticide reduction targets published on July 10, in 2021 chemical pesticides had been reduced by 33% and the most dangerous ones by 21% in the European Union. Although the EU is progressing in the right direction with a view to achieving the objectives of reducing the use and risk of chemical pesticides and the most dangerous ones by 50% by 2030, “much remains to be done,” says the Commission.

The study proposes possible ways to further reduce the administrative burden for farmers and to take into account recent advances in alternatives to chemical pesticides. It also outlines possible additional actions to accelerate the introduction of alternatives to the market “while maintaining the general positive trend and the possibility of continuing to resort to the most dangerous chemical pesticides only as a last resort.”

By consistently applying the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles and receiving independent advice on their application, as provided for in the proposed regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products, “farmers can reduce their dependence on chemical pesticides without compromising the viability of their businesses,” says the European Commission.

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