Political pressure is mounting across Europe for EU farm ministers to resist further restrictions on the availability of pesticides.
But this was condemned by Dutch agriculture minister Gerda Verburg at last week’s farm council in Brussels. She presented a paper – supported by the UK and Ireland – warning of the dire consequences if the EU goes too far in banning pesticides.
A strong debate followed, with a further 13 ministers expressing the same concerns about the parliament’s plans for additional cut-off criteria and new pesticide reduction targets.
EU health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told the meeting there was little to worry about and the industry had plenty of time to respond. But she is likely to come under renewed pressure from home, as the Greek farm minister was among those expressing concerns.
The Greek food chain has also written to their Prime Minister, Konstandinos Karamanlis, demanding that he press for a full impact assessment at heads of state level – one of the Farmers Weekly SOS campaign’s central demands.
Crop Protection Association chief executive Dominic Dyer said this chimed with the letter the UK food industry had sent to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “It may rest on the Prime Minister to intervene personally at the European Council level to work with other member states to reach agreement on this,” he said.
Trilateral meetings between the EU Commission, the council and the parliament resume next week in Brussels with the aim of achieving a compromise before the package goes to the full European parliament for a vote in January.