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Proposal aiming to halve pesticide usage dismissed

Updated: Mar 28

EU parliament strikes down pesticide reduction

The failure of the proposal to halve pesticide usage in the European Union has been described as a "dark day" for European society, the environment, and farmers by the lawmaker who led negotiations on the bill.

EU lawmakers have rejected the proposal, raising significant concerns about its implications for drinking water and the environment. The opposition from right-wing politicians and farmers has dealt a blow to the European Union's ambitious Green Deal climate law, of which the rejected regulation was a crucial component. This legislation aimed not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 but also to enhance biodiversity and ecosystems.

The rejection, an unusual development, now forces the European Commission to consider withdrawing the proposal. The vote saw 299 against the regulation, 207 in favor, and 121 abstentions.

Conservative lawmakers celebrated this outcome as a victory for farmers, highlighting agriculture as a key political constituency ahead of the upcoming EU-wide elections. However, environmentalists and proponents of pesticide restrictions were disappointed by the decision.

Sarah Wiener, an Austrian lawmaker deeply involved in the negotiations, lamented the vote as a "very dark day for the environment and farmers," criticizing the lack of willingness to compromise from the political right, far-right factions, and Euro-skeptics.

Jutta Paulus, a German Green MEP, expressed concern: "The conservatives are endangering the health of farmers and biodiversity by vehemently opposing pesticide reduction. The extensive use of pesticides poses a threat to biodiversity, subsequently impacting our drinking water, clean air, and fertile soils."

The rejected legislation aimed to cut pesticide usage by 50% by 2030 while promoting the adoption of eco-friendly pest-control methods among farmers. Over a million EU citizens had petitioned for a complete phaseout of pesticides within the EU, citing concerns about environmental and health hazards. However, farming organizations, such as the EU's Copa Cogeca, argued that reducing pesticide use by over 50% would harm yields and jeopardize food production across the bloc.

Differences in pesticide use among the EU's 27 member states also contributed to the rejection, with some Eastern European countries seeking exemptions to the law due to their existing lower levels of chemical pest control. Additionally, concerns about the legislation's impact on food security, particularly following geopolitical tensions like Russia's invasion of Ukraine, prompted calls for further analysis from EU agriculture ministers.

Maroš Šefčovič, the EU's Green Deal commissioner, emphasized that while chemical pesticides offer short-term yield stability, reducing their use could yield positive effects on food production in the medium to long term, countering climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation.



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