EU considers much tougher pesticide rules

Farmers across the United Kingdom are being urged to lobby their MEP to vote against a set of far-reaching proposals that would place severe restrictions on the future use of pesticides.


The environment committee of the European Parliament has tabled an extended set of what were already onerous proposals intended to curb pesticide use across the EU by 2020.


The parliament’s agriculture and industry committees lodged more than 70 amendments, but the environment committee rejected them outright.


The latest version, which is likely to go before parliament for a vote in September, requires:


• Member states to draft a National Action Plan that would outline how pesticide use would be cut by 25% within five years and by 50% by 2020;


• The NAP should be funded by an industry levy or tax;


• Compulsory 10m buffer zones alongside watercourses;


• A central system for notifying neighbours and others that have requested to be notified of instances where they could be exposed to drift;


• The legal requirement for sprayers to undergo an MOT-style inspection at least once every five years;


• A ban on spraying vertical crops (ie hops and orchards) alongside or near watercourses and;


• A 50% reduction in use of products considered of very high concern or classified as toxic or very toxic by 2013 


2.5-mile buffer zones?
Most worryingly is the requirement for “substantial” buffer zones.  While substantial is not defined, and will ultimately be at the discretion of member states anyway, there is strong support for the American requirement of buffers of 2.5miles


The industry levy or tax should also be used to promote low-input systems, crop specific integrated pest management (IPM) practices and organic farming systems.


Who is your MEP?
You can identify and contact your MEP by visiting http://www.europarl.org.uk/uk_meps/MembersMain.htm


To read what senior arable reporter Andrew Blake thinks of the proposals read the Food For Thought blog. You can comment on the blog or on a dedicated forum thread.