Friday, October 7, 2022
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Mainly criticism of vague rules for halving fertilizer in agriculture

European politicians and agricultural organizations are reluctant to respond to the European Commission's proposals to halve the use of chemicals in agriculture and food supply. For the first time in 20 years, a mandatory nature restoration law will also be introduced to prevent the decline of 'greenery'.

Agriculture Committee chairman Norbert Lins (EPP) regrets that Commissioners Frans Timmermans, Virginius Sinkevicius and Stella Kyriakides have ignored the request of ten EU countries to postpone their farm-to-table rules for a while.

The Christian Democrats in the European Parliament also believe that there must first be more clarity about the possible consequences of the Green Deal climate plans.

Lins fears that the measures will lead to less food being produced. The German Farmers' Union has made a similar statement. The European Commission replied that there are numerous studies showing that farmers can reduce pesticides and save money without compromising crop yields. 

Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans said some are using the war as an excuse to criticize the project. GroenLinkser Bas Eickhout also expressed this in the same vein: “A large, very successful lobby has been launched that is using the war in Ukraine to set aside environmental regulations in order to increase food production. We must build a resilient European agricultural sector that works with nature rather than against it. 

The European agricultural umbrella organization Copa-Cosega criticized the fact that the European rules are not laid down in a legally binding directive for each of the EU countries. Instead there will be a EU level 'target' which is then set by the individual countries, together with their agricultural industries, in binding national plans. 

As a result, according to Copa-Cosega, the outcome in a few years' time is still highly uncertain. Moreover, the umbrella organization believes that far too little money is being set aside for this. The fear is expressed that this will be at the expense of the current budgets for the common agricultural policy.

The Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp (PvdD) called it positive 'that the EU has finally set targets to reduce pesticide use'. According to her, the question is whether the rules guarantee that national reduction targets will lead to less poison use. 

The Party for the Animals is positive about the proposed total ban on the use of poisons in natural areas and in urban areas such as schoolyards and parks. “It is irresponsible to spray agricultural poisons in gebieden where there are many people. You should not want to. A total ban will help ensure that people and animals are less exposed to hazardous substances," said Hazekamp.

“This is not the right time for the bills on pesticide reduction and nature restoration,” said Annie Schreijer-Pierik, spokesperson in the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee on behalf of the CDA (EPP Group). "As we are in the midst of the worst food crisis of our century, the European Commission should not introduce new legislation that could significantly reduce food production in Europe," she responded to the Commission's proposals.

“Since the Farm-to-Fork strategy, our Christian Democrat EPP Group has continuously asked for a thorough impact assessment. So far we haven't seen any," she repeated earlier pleas.

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