The European Union is sticking to a plan to halve its use of pesticides by 2030, even as agriculture is squeezed by shortages sparked by Russia’s tactics in its war against Ukraine.
According to EU officials, the European Commission will propose using legally binding targets to achieve its plan, which will stop at a blanket ban on pesticides and instead focus on organic products and other alternatives. The plan would ban the use of pesticides in public spaces and near facilities such as schools and hospitals.
“We will replace chemical pesticides with safer alternatives,” said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. “Farmers will be fully supported with unprecedented EU funding opportunities to cover the costs of the transition.”
The EU executive will unveil the measure on Wednesday in the first piece of legislation emerging from its Sustainable Food Plan, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of farming.
Governments are struggling with food prices near record highs as the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted trade, fueled hunger and worsened a cost-of-living crisis. The EU had delayed the pesticides directive due in the first quarter. It needs to be approved by the European Parliament and Member States before it comes into force and could still be amended or weakened during the debate.
Pests and diseases reduce crop yields by 20 to 40 percent worldwide, according to CABI, a UK-based non-profit organization that researches agriculture. However, as insects become more resistant to pesticides, farmers are using more chemicals, raising concerns about the impact on wildlife and human health.
The US Environmental Protection Agency recently said some commonly used insecticides are likely harmful to thousands of endangered animals and plants, while Bayer AG’s weed killer Roundup is the subject of tens of thousands of lawsuits alleging it causes cancer, which the company denies.
Requirements to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use could cut EU wheat yields by about 15 percent by 2030 and turn the bloc into a net grain importer, said Philippe Mitko, the president of Coceral, an association representing agricultural trade, last year.
EU officials said the changes are ambitious but will be gradual and workable. The bloc will provide guidance, training and support, but it will be up to member states to set their national targets and implement them.
The plan will not jeopardize the continent’s food production, officials stressed, noting that there is no alternative but to act as the decline in pollinators caused by pesticides poses a serious long-term threat to the food supply.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/tillage/eu-aims-to-require-halving-of-pesticide-use-under-green-food-plan-41777879.html The EU wants to halve the use of pesticides as part of the green food plan