The European Parliament is considering far-reaching proposals that would cut by half the number of pesticide applications on farms across the EU, by 2020.

Under the Sustainable Use Directive, member states would be required to draw up a National Action Plan – which the proposals suggest should be funded through an industry tax or levy.

The NAP would contain targets that seek to reduce the risk posed and the overall use of pesticides by 25% within five years and 50% within 10 years. The directive, drawn up by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, is expected to become law in 2010.

The directive also proposes introducing an obligation on pesticide users to inform neighbours who could be exposed to drift, and to all others who have requested to be informed, by means of a centralised system.

Other proposals include buffer zones of at least 10m wide to protect watercourses, a total ban on pesticide use in public areas such as parks and school playing fields, and tighter restrictions on aerial applications and non-agricultural use.

Attempts to introduce proposals that would seek to balance the message about pesticide use by including details of theirbenefits were rejected.

Spray - 2

EU proposals suggest cutting spray applications by 50%, by 2020.

However, there was some good news, such as the adoption of new rules concerning illegal use and recognition of farmers’ professional knowledge and experience with respect to further training requirements.

NFU vice president Paul Temple criticised the naïve nature behind the directive and urged all users to lobby their MEP to vote against the directive before it reaches the plenary session of the EU parliament, likely to be in September.

“The directive is clearly one of an anti-pesticide persuasion. It seeks to reduce their use on the assumption that pesticides must be damaging to human health and the environment yet provides no science to support the extension of measures already in place.”

He added: “While we support National Action Plans in principle we do not support the levy or tax to fund them: the Pesticide Safety Directorate has stated that sales volumes are no indicator of risk. And, we do not support compulsory buffer zones of at least 10m as we feel they should be judged on a case by case basis as with LERAPs.”

“As for the decision to reject giving a balanced message on pesticides there is simply no logic in not putting across a balanced view.”


andrew.watts@rbi.co.uk

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