Tougher rules on pesticides and spraying are on the way, following a vote in the European parliament on Tuesday (23 October).
The parliament was voting on two sets of proposals – one dealing with the approvals process for new pesticides and the other with the use of pesticides on farms.
With regards to the approvals process, the MEPs supported many of the EU Commission’s proposals – in particular that new pesticides should only be licenced for 10 years, or 15 years if they are low risk.
They also backed a ban on active ingredients that are genotoxic, carcinogenic, reprotoxic or endocrine disrupting.
According to the European Crop Protection Association, this will inflict “serious damage” on the farming industry. “It will result in the ban on plant protection products that have been proven safe,” said a statement.
“While an active substance may have certain undesirable properties, this does not mean they will be reflected in the final product when used properly.”
It was better news with regards the use of pesticides Directive, where many of the more extreme ideas tabled by MEPs were rejected.
For examples, calls for a 25% reduction in all pesticide use over five year and 50% over 10 years were rejected.
Instead, it was left for each member state to set its own reduction target as part of a National Action Plan, if deemed necessary.
Crucially, the European parliament also rejected the idea that farmers should be taxed on their pesticide use to help promote organic farming.
The MEPs did agree that there should be buffer zones around water courses, but kicked out the idea of making this at least 10m wide.
The idea of making it compulsory to inform neighbours before spraying was also turned down. Member states could include this as part of their NAPs, where people had asked to be kept informed.
The MEPs did back a ban on aerial spraying.
They also agreed there should be a 50% reduction in the use of the most toxic substances – including paraquat, diquat, deltamethrin and chloropicrin – by 2013
An NFU spokesman said: “It’s very complex and we need to go through it in detail and analyse the implications. Overall, we’re happy with what’s happened but there are elements in there that we’re not happy with.”