Hoping to speed up steps to reduce the use of pesticides, the European Commission is presenting its proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides. An insulting text, but one that leaves the states room for manoeuvre.
While pressure has increased on European authorities to slow down the implementation of the Farm-to-Fork strategy and the Green Deal in the context of the war in Ukraine, today the Commission, on the contrary, chooses to speed up the movement. ” Some tell us that there are already many risks to global food security and that now is not the time. But when is the right time? “Said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President in charge of the Green Deal for Europe from the start, this Wednesday 22 June as he presented the Commission’s proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides. For the latter, the lessons of science are clear: it is indeed the climate crises and the loss of biodiversity that most threaten our food sovereignty today and in the long term.
Stronger action, beyond strategy
To address the weakness of the current rules and to give more encouragement to member states to build food systems in line with the European Union’s goals, the Commission’s text, included in the European “protect nature” package, seeks to balance flexibility and authority . The goal of reducing the use of chemical pesticides and their risks by 50% by 2030, especially the most dangerous ones, would then become binding. But, ” to ensure the achievement of EU-wide goals States must set their own national targets. The calculation method would take into account the intensity of pesticide use and the reduction efforts already made to move the slider above or below the 50% threshold.
A provision adopted after heated debates so as not to penalize countries that are already advanced in this field. So far no sanctions have been set in case of delays or lack of ambition by countries, but the Commission reserves the right to make recommendations. However, these strong commitments could be distorted if the indicators chosen are not the right ones, the Future Generations association warns. ” The selected Harmonized Risk Indicator 1 discriminates the most against pesticides used in organic farming. But even among conventional pesticides, there is a systematic bias in favor of the most toxic ones.. »
Financial and technical support
New measures could be promoted to ensure that all farmers and other users of pesticides adopt integrated pest management, with chemical pesticides the ” last way out “. It is up to each Member State to establish crop-specific rules after identifying possible fallback solutions. A multi-part support plan has also been drawn up for these approaches. Firstly, the budgetary rules of the CAP could be exceptionally modified. While in theory they only concern voluntary measures that go beyond statutory If the obligations go beyond this, they could finance the new obligations arising from this regulation for five years through national strategic plans, in particular in the context of eco-schemes and investments.
Then the text commits to expanding the range of biological and low-risk substitutes on the market and to supporting research and development projects within the framework of the Union’s European horizon programmes. The commission is also betting on the development of precision farming, made possible by geotracking and pest detection techniques. Finally, she mentions the proposal on sustainability data, which still needs to be finalized.
Sensitive areas better protected
Another long-awaited advance: pesticides will be banned in sensitive or protected ecological areas such as Natura 2000, green spaces, public paths, gardens near hospitals, playgrounds and other sports facilities. This without any possible deviation a priori, unless other legislation provides for exceptions. In the longer term, the Commission is also committed to promoting the “zero” reduction in residues of thiamethoxam and clothianidin: two substances that are banned in the European Union but are still present in certain imported foods and contribute significantly to the decline in pollinators.
This proposal, which still has to be examined by the European Parliament and the Council, could transform the existing directive into a regulation directly applicable in all Member States. what to solve” the persistent problems related to the poor and inconsistent implementation of the existing rules over the past decade “, explains the commission. Member States must submit a detailed annual report to the latter on the progress and implementation of the dossier. An approach that would correspond to the wishes of the citizens”, increasingly concerned about the use of pesticides and the accumulation of their residues and metabolites in the environment ‘ is the verdict of the Commission, taking this opportunity to refer to the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe. ” Almost 40% believe pesticides pose a major risk to food safety,” he says Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. ” And 96% of them expect binding targets », adds Frans Timmermans. In parallel, the Commission is carrying out an analysis aimed at identifying the risks of food shortages and long-term solutions. ” If this prompts us to make another proposal, we are willing to do so. The idea is to have a scientific basis to justify any decision says Frans Timmermans.
Article published on June 22, 2022