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NGOs pleased by European Parliament's call for mandatory pesticide use reduction - EEB

31 March 2003, 21:55 CET

The European Parliament adopted last week a resolution supportive of the requests of PAN Europe, EEB, Greenpeace and other environmental, public health, consumers and farmers groups for a pesticides stragegy that ends the current irresponsible failure to protect human health and environment from pesticides use.

In its Resolution adopted 27 March on the Commission Communication "Towards a Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides" the Parliament criticises the Commission for its lack of ambition. MEPs voted for much stricter EU measures to combat the growing environmental and health threats from pesticides use.

"The Parliament demands mandatory EU action for pesticides use reduction with clear reduction goals, targets and timetable for organic farming and Integrated Crop Management development and a pesticides ban in protected areas – all measures and objectives which are lacking in the weak Commission's proposed list", said Stefan Scheuer, EEB. "We believe that a drastic and EU wide pesticide use reduction is an essential element to fight the risks from pesticide pollution of our drinking water and food."

"We knew that the Commission is hesitant to do the necessary and is bending under heavy industry pressure. Therefore we have presented already a Directive text for pesticides use reduction, supported by 71 organisations from 22 European countries", said Catherine Wattiez of
Pesticide Action Network. "We are happy that the Parliament is supporting our demands, is insisting to strengthen financial incentives for conversion to low input and organic farming and urging for Integrated Crop Management to become a prerequisite for subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy."

MEPs also reaffirm their previous demand (Resolution of 30 May 2002 on the revision of the Pesticides Authorisation Directive 91/414/EEC) to regulate pesticides based on their intrinsic hazard properties, and to substitute hazardous pesticides with safer ones and by non-chemical alternatives
Environmental NGOs believe than an effective EU strategy on pesticides that properly deals with the ongoing attack on our health and environment has to be built on 2 pillars:

1. improving the current EU pesticides authorisation process to ensure precautionary control of hazardous pesticides, including a obligatory substitution with non-hazardous alternatives.

2. implementation of an EU pesticide use/dependency reduction policy and legislation.

However, environmental NGOs regret that MEPs failed to adopt the Environment Committee's request for an overall and indicative use reduction target for Member States of 50% in 10 years and an EU regulatory framework for taxes and /or other levies on pesticides, a very cost effective measure to realise the goals and support the conversion to alternative pest control practices.

Further, NGOs are worried about the fact that the European Parliament recognise - although with a very small majority of MEPs - the potential of genetically modified crops for reducing pesticide use. GMOs crops are unsustainable and have failed to reduce pesticide use and risk. GMOs are
incompatible with the Parliaments call for promotion of organic farming.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is a federation of 135 environmental citizens' organisations based in all EU Member States and most Candidate Countries, as well as in some neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

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