EU wants to legally impose half as many chemicals in agriculture

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The European Commission plans to completely reduce the use of chemical pesticides in parks and natural areas, and to halve the rest by 2030 at the latest. The EU Commissioners for Environment and Climate, Agriculture, and Food Safety are reportedly set to announce a revision of the current EU pesticide rules in March.  

Since that reduction is already included in the farm-to-table food strategy, the main outstanding question is whether the halving should be legally binding in a EU directive, or more non-committal in annual strategic plans.

According to a version leaked via Euractiv, Timmermans, Wojciechowski and Kyriakides are looking for a combination: the halving will become binding, but countries may temporarily deviate downwards under certain conditions. Chemical pesticides may also be used in some limited periods, as can be deduced from the formulations that have now been leaked.

The European Commission says these steps are necessary because a number of EU countries have done too little in recent years to reduce the use of chemical agents. The EU must switch to a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system, it is emphasized.

Plans to reduce pesticide use can only succeed if agricultural substitutes are introduced and farmers have access to alternatives, including new genetic engineering, said Norbert Lins, chairman of the EU parliament's agriculture committee, last week. The new regulation, especially if it becomes legally binding, will require the approval of both the European Parliament and the 27 LNV ministers.

German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir and Environment Minister Steffi Lemke have repeatedly spoken out in favor of reducing pesticides since taking office. French LNV minister Julien Denormandie, who is currently EU chairman, has repeatedly said that he wants to deal with the pesticide dossier this year.