The Environment Committee of European Parliament has voted to ensure sustainable use of pesticides and reduce their use by at least half by 2030.
“This vote brings us one step closer to significantly reducing chemical pesticide use by 2030. It is very positive that we were able to agree on feasible compromises in an ideologically charged and industry-dominated discussion,” said MEP Sarah Wiener, rapporteur on sustainable use of pesticides, in the press release.
MEPs are asking each member nation to adopt their own national strategies and targets based on products’ hazard levels, amount of the substances sold annually and their affected agricultural area. The European Commission will then review them and decide if targets are on track to meet EU 2030 goals or need to be modified.
Additionally, EU member countries must have rules for at least five crops where reducing chemical pesticide use would have the most impact.
MEPs want to ban toxic pesticides in “sensitive areas,” other than those authorized to be used for biological control and organic farming, plus a surrounding buffer zone. Examples of these areas are parks, public paths, recreation areas, playgrounds and Natura 2000 areas throughout Europe.
“Practical solutions have been found for example on sensitive areas where member states can make exceptions if needed. It was particularly important for me to ensure that independent advice on preventive measures based on integrated pest management would be offered free of charge to European farmers,” Wiener said in the press release.
EU nations are obligated to ensure toxic pesticides are used only as a “last resort,” according to the rules in Integrated Pest Management.
In order to provide farmers with better access to alternative substances, MEPs want the commission to set a target date for increasing sales of lower-risk pesticides that is six months following the start of the new regulation.
Any changes that arise from the new rules would happen gradually to minimize impacts on food security.
MEP Marie Arena, a Belgian Socialist politician, said the result would benefit both the environment and farmworkers, as “abusive use of pesticides makes people sick,” as well as wiping out bee populations, AFP reported.
The commission must look at the differences in pesticide use on imported agri-food and agricultural products in comparison to EU produce by December of 2025, and, if necessary, propose measures to make sure imports are up to EU standards. The export of pesticides banned in the EU would also be prohibited.
Parliament’s new mandate is scheduled to be adopted during the plenary session of November 20 to 23 of this year. It will then begin negotiations with EU member nations.