EU Parliament scrutinises use of pesticides on farms

The European Parliament’s Vice-President and MEP Mairead McGuinness has pointed to the rules on sustainable use of pesticides and how they must be “better implemented” following a vote on a directive regarding the sustainable use of pesticides.

The directive – which was the subject of a debate earlier today (Tuesday, February 12) – calls for a reduction in the use of pesticides and the development of safer biological controls; it also points to a ‘fast track procedure’ to get low-risk pesticides onto the market.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament rejected calls for a 50% reduction in the use of pesticides, but called for sustainable biological, physical and other non-chemical methods, “if they provide satisfactory control”.

While there are many reasons for the loss of insects, the report points to intensive agriculture as the main reason for the declines, particularly the use of pesticides.

McGuinness added: “The parliament overwhelmingly expressed concern about the loss of biodiversity reflecting public awareness of, and concerns about, biodiversity loss; member states differ significantly in how they implement the directive in the design and quality of National Action Plans (NAPs) and in the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) measures.”

She also pointed to the fact that the directive called for a renewed emphasis on IPM measures and for the better implementation of existing rules on how pesticides are used “in order to mitigate potential risks to the environment and human and animal health”.

It also advises member states to fully prepare NAPs indicating objectives, targets, measurements and timetables for the various actions in order to reduce agrochemical use.

The directive warned too that implementation is sporadic and called on the commission to ensure the directive was implemented and to take infringement proceedings against member states found to be failing on implementation.

“IPM is the cornerstone of this directive and it seeks to use a broad range of pest management techniques and tools, including physical and biological, with the use of agrochemicals as a last resort; IPM, including crop rotation, nutrient management planning, cultivation techniques such as conservation tillage, etc, can provide for effective pest control and so reduce the need for pesticides,” added McGuinness.

The MEP went on to say that farmers needed access to a broad range of tools, and IPM was one of these tools together with agrochemicals.

McGuinness welcomed the decision taken last month to establish Harmonised Risk Indicators (HRI) which will facilitate the monitoring of specific aspects of the directive.

She added: “HRI are important to measure progress in meeting the objectives of the directive.”