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Article: EU commits to 50% cut in agchem use by 2030

22 May 2020

This article is taken from our Agrow platform dated 22/05/20.

The European Commission has set a target to reduce the "overall use and risk" of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by the same amount by 2030 under its new Farm to Fork strategy.

The European Commission has set a target to reduce the "overall use and risk" of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by the same amount by 2030 under its new Farm to Fork strategy. To achieve this, it will "reinforce" the environmental risk assessment of pesticides, facilitate biopesticide approvals, and take action to reduce the length of the approval process by EU member states.

The Commission will also revise the EU sustainable use of pesticides Directive (2009/128) to enhance provisions on IPM and promote greater use of alternative ways of protecting crops. The 50% target has been condemned as "not realistic" by the European Crop Protection Association.

Farm to Fork, along with a new Biodiversity strategy, form part of the Commission's "Green Deal" to move towards more sustainable systems to tackle the impact of climate change. Support and incentives for farmers to adapt will come through the farm payments made under the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The strategy will be reviewed by mid-2023.

The hazardous pesticides target is aimed at those that meet the hazard cut-off criteria under EU approval rules or those that are identified as candidates for substitution. A revision of rules on biopesticide approvals is due by the last quarter of 2021, while a proposal on revisions to Directive 2009/128 is planned for the first quarter of 2022.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans repeated assurances that impact assessments would be conducted before any legislative proposals were made, stressing that the Commission would work with those affected to make sure that measures were "workable". But this prompted European farmers group CopaCogeca to question why targets were set before impact assessments and what would happen if the assessment found that they were unrealistic.

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides acknowledged that implementation of targets needed good data on pesticide use. A proposal to revise the EU pesticide statistics Regulation (1185/2009) to overcome data gaps is planned for 2023.

A further target is to have at least 25% of the EU's agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. An action plan on organic farming for 2021-26 is planned for later this year. The pesticide and organic farming targets are included in the Biodiversity strategy. Its objectives include the full implementation of existing initiatives to protect pollinators, which will be reviewed at the end of 2020 to see if further measures are necessary. Another target is to bring back at least 10% of agricultural land under high-diversity landscape features, including buffer strips, fallow land and hedges.

To encourage a global take-up of its policies, the Commission wants trade deals to obtain "ambitious" commitments from third countries on the use of pesticides. It is also considering a review of import tolerances for active ingredients meeting EU cut-off criteria for human health.

The European Parliament's Environment Committee gave a guarded welcome but pointed out that the objectives needed to be transformed into EU legislation. The Agriculture Committee said that the strategy was "overly ambitious" and repeated calls for more support for farmers already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

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