EU countries must do more to ensure environmental and sustainable use of pesticides and reduce the impact on human health. In a report published this week (October 10), the European Commission wants EU member states to set national long term and measurable targets to reduce pesticide use.
“I know first-hand that citizens are concerned about the impact of the use of pesticides on their health and the environment,” said the EU’s Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis. “We take these concerns into consideration and we are working with the Member States to achieve sustainable use of pesticides in the way we grow and produce our food. I will continue encouraging and supporting Member States in their task of implementing the measures to reduce risks derived from the use of pesticides”.
The European Commission in 2009 introduced a directive requiring EU countries to establish training and certification for professional users, monitor pesticide poisoning, inspect pesticides, ban certain practices such as aerial spraying, and adopt measures to cut water pollution by pesticides. The report states that member states have made progress in certain areas while progress in protecting rivers, lakes and groundwater was “difficult to assess.”
The report also stated that while the Directive offered the potential to greatly reduce the risks derived from pesticide use, improvements so far were insufficient to reach the environmental and health improvements the Directive was designed to achieve. The report said the drawback to improvements were largely due to the implementation of the Directive that remains patchy.
Some key findings from the report include:
- Aerial spraying is banned in all EU countries, with exceptions granted only under strict conditions.
- Pesticide use is banned or minimized in public parks, sports grounds, hospitals and schools.
- Protection of aquatic environments or specific areas such as public parks is difficult to assess given the lack of measurable targets in most National Action Plans (NAPs).
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) remains underused by Member States. This is despite the fact that the number of EU-approved low risk/non-chemical pesticide substances has doubled since 2009. Compliance at individual grower level is not being systematically checked by Member States.
- Training and certification systems for professionals have been set up in all EU countries, and to date almost four million farmers have been trained to use pesticides safely. Furthermore, 900 000 sprayers have been tested for accurate and safe application.
The report calls for member states to set specific and measurable targets and indicators for a long term strategy for the reduction of risks and impacts from pesticide use. The Commission will continue to monitor and support implementation to provide assurance that the objectives of the Directive are being achieved. This monitoring includes a range of actions such as audits, the evaluation of revised NAPs and other follow-up activities – for example, exchange of best practices and training of professionals. The Commission will also work to develop EU harmonized risk indicators, based on member states’ experience with their national indicators.
Source: The European Commission