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EU to set binding targets for 50% cut in agchem use by 2030

04 July 2022 Sanjiv Rana

The European Commission has proposed legally binding targets with clear objectives and enforceable rules to reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 2030. The targets were laid out as part of the EU's Farm to Fork strategy unveiled in 2020. But not much headway had been made since then towards laying out a clear path to achieve those targets.

Member states will set their own national reduction targets within defined parameters to ensure that the EU wide targets are achieved. The proposed rules will take into account the historic progress and national pesticide use of each member state when it comes to setting national targets. "We are not proposing a one size fits all approach," the Commission stresses.

The proposal would transform the existing EU sustainable use of pesticides Directive (2009/128) into a Regulation which would be directly applicable in all member states. This would tackle the persistent problems with weak and uneven implementation of existing rules over the last decade. Member states would have to submit to the Commission detailed annual progress and implementation reports.

The Commission points out that the proposed rules do not imply banning pesticides. They seek to replace them with safe and sustainable alternatives, making pesticides a last resort measure. The measures also include mandatory record keeping for farmers and other professional users. In addition, member states would have to establish crop-specific rules identifying the alternatives to be used instead of chemical pesticides.

Ban in sensitive areas

The proposals include a ban on all pesticides in sensitive areas. The use of all pesticides would be prohibited in places such as urban green areas, including public parks or gardens, playgrounds, schools, recreation or sports grounds, public paths and protected areas in accordance with Natura 2000 (a network of nature protection areas in the EU).

Farmer support

The Commission says that its ambition will be matched by an equally ambitious level of financial support. That involves a change to the rules on the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to support farmers financially to cover the costs of the rules and requirements for a period of five years.

As has been pointed out many times previously, the transition would be accompanied by increasing the range of biological and low risk alternatives on the market and through continued research, innovation and new technologies. Since the start of its mandate, the Commission has approved 20 low-risk alternatives, it points out.

Pressure on third countries

The Commission will soon propose a measure that will affect its decisions on maximum residue levels in food. Imported food containing measurable residues of prohibited active ingredients should, over time, not be marketed in the EU, the Commission. This would "encourage third countries" to also limit or prohibit the use of these pesticides, already banned in the EU.

A consultation will be run with member states and third countries on a measure reducing to zero the residues of the neonicotinoid insecticides, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. The two ais were banned in the EU in 2018 . Once the measure is adopted, imported food containing measurable residues of these two ais may - after certain transitional periods - no longer be marketed in the EU.

Nature restoration

A new Nature Restoration law would require that by 2030 effective restoration measures be in place on 20% of the EU's land and sea areas. It would also require that, by 2050, restoration measures address all ecosystems in need of restoration. The Commission seeks to stop net loss of green urban spaces by 2030 and increase it by 5% until 2050.

Both proposals will be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, in line with the legislative procedure.

Posted 04 July 2022 by Sanjiv Rana, Editor-in-Chief (Crop Science Market Reporting), S&P Global Commodity Insights

This article was published by S&P Global Commodity Insights and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.


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