The EU goes too far in controlling pesticides. The Commission updates the 2009 Sustainable Use Directive and turns it into a regulation.
o As far as normal: more rules, more bureaucracy around the use of pesticides.
It is fair to say that the use of pesticides has an impact on the environment and it is right and proper that their use be monitored and controlled.
The problem with the proposals is how far they go in their desire to control and limit the use of pesticides.
Outside of agricultural use, the proposals aim to ban the use of pesticides in recreational areas.
That means no “sprays” of any kind are allowed on any athletic field, golf course, public park, private garden, road, or railroad.
For example, all of our freeway verges are currently treated with herbicides to keep the rock drainage systems open and prevent stagnation/flooding during heavy rain.
Herbicides are also applied to rails to keep vegetation in check and prevent build-up which can cause wheels to slide along the rails, as can happen with fall foliage.
With no significant ongoing intervention, the development of the unkempt land goes from wild flowers in the first year to ragwort, thistles and sorrel in the second year before brambles arrive in the third year just before birch, alder and willow appear.
Aside from shovel- and hoe-wielding conveyor belts, the only realistic methods of combating this infestation are the judicious use of emission-spitting mulchers, string trimmers, and shredders, accompanied by a significant, costly labor input.
It remains to be seen how society will prepare for this.
The proposed regulations also require a complete break in the link between those who advise on the use of pesticides and those who supply them.
As an independent consultant, the vast majority of crops in Ireland are overseen by consultants embedded in the supply chain.
It is not clear how this significant change can be made.
Another suggestion is that no pesticides may be applied in environmentally sensitive areas. There are a variety of definitions of what constitutes an environmentally sensitive area.
Large tracts of land in each county are included, including areas that are prime arable areas where the use of pesticides is prohibited.
Interestingly, an EU impact assessment of the proposals clearly outlined the risk to food production, the risk to food safety and the impact on food prices.
It is also clear that any benefit from the regulation will be small and that habitat loss has a greater impact on the environment than pesticides.
In summary, all pain with little or no gain. The proposals as they stand completely ignore 40 years of EU regulation on the availability and use of pesticides.
The pesticides available today are a completely different beast than the range that was available 40 years ago.
Regardless of how effective a pesticide is, its impact on the environment determines whether it is available for use. This is how it should be, but the proposals ignore this.
The proposals are in the consultation phase – the EU was looking for feedback until then 09/19.
If you feel that your opinion needs to be heard, type ‘feedback on regulating sustainable use’ into a search engine and take the opportunity to give your opinion on the proposals as they stand.
And once the rules are in place, there’s no turning back.
Richard Hackett is an agronomist from North Co Dublin and a member of the ITCA and ACA
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/tillage/richard-hackett-why-the-eus-proposed-new-pesticide-control-rules-are-all-pain-for-little-gain-41990810.html Richard Hackett: Why the EU’s proposed new pesticide control rules are all pain for little gain