Nature and human health cannot afford policy delays

Download the Joint Statement here


A week ahead of the planned publication of the “EU Nature Protection Package”, and with rumors of a second delay persisting, BeeLife together with over 20 European Civil Society Organisations, including farmer organisations and farm worker trade unions, sent today a joint statement to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-President Frans Timmermans and all Commissioners. We call on them to publish an ambitious “Nature Protection Package” on the planned date of 22 June 2022 and introduce strong and binding targets to avoid the EU Green Deal being further undermined.


The “Nature Protection Package” includes the EU Nature Restoration Law and the revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (which should become a Regulation).


The Package is being under attack by big agri-lobbies and Member States, whom are using the war in Ukraine as an alibi to keep back environmental commitments. This resulted in the postponement of the Package, initially expected for the 23rd of March (the original publication date for the EU Nature Restoration Law was first promised for 2021).


Civil Society Organisations urge European leaders not to succumb to the pressure from vested corporate interests and to take into account people’s demands, including the 1.2 million citizens asking for an 80% reduction in the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030 and a full phase-out by 2035 in the European Citizens Initiative Save Bees and Farmers.


Read the Joint statement below or download it here.


 

Joint statement - A strong EU Nature Package to tackle the climate, health and biodiversity crises


June 16, 2022


On June 22, the European Commission is expected to publish two crucial legislative proposals to implement the EU Green Deal. The “Nature Protection Package” includes the EU Nature Restoration Law and the revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (the Pesticides Reduction Regulation). We call on the Commission to publish the two Regulations on the planned date and introduce ambitious and binding targets to stop irreversible biodiversity breakdown.


The new Pesticides Reduction Regulation and Nature Restoration Law are the first essential pieces of legislation to bring the commitments of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategy to life. Without ambitious, legally binding targets, and strong measures to achieve them, the EU Green Deal as a whole is at risk.


Just as with the climate crisis, the science is clear: we cannot afford any further inaction and delay when it comes to addressing biodiversity decline and ecosystem collapse [1]. It is therefore crucial for the EU not to succumb to the pressure from vested corporate interests. The war in Ukraine is being used by agribusiness lobbies as a pretext to amplify the attacks on the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies’ objectives [2]. These lobbies are trying to scaremonger EU decision makers with claims that the Strategies would lead to a drop in food production, based on partial and limited studies funded by the industry itself [3]. The first delay of the Nature Package (initially expected at the end of March) was a worrying signal [4].


These vested interests are making misleading claims around agricultural productivity, creating a false dichotomy between nature preservation and food production. They defend a broken food system that destroys small and medium-scale farming and keeps food producers locked in unsustainable farming practices like pesticide use. Independent science has linked exposure to synthetic pesticides to severe illnesses like cancer and Parkinson’s disease [5] and the first people affected, farmers and farm workers, are currently being left to fend for themselves.


As civil society organizations [6], scientists [7] and several decision makers8 have maintained, watering

down environmental ambitions is the wrong policy response to the crisis we face. Furthermore, it has been scientifically proven that pesticide reduction is totally compatible with food security. New studies even show that the farmers can increase earning by applying good agronomic practices [9].


This is the moment to ramp up efforts for the transition towards a more just and environmentally-friendly food system based on agroecology, rather than taking a step back.


The war in Ukraine has highlighted not only the destructive impacts of a deregulated global market on food and the consequent dangers of food autonomy loss for countries now facing very strong food security pressure, but also the resilience of small farms in Ukraine itself, which are the ones currently working on meeting the country's food needs. The legislative proposals of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies must be carried through to keep the course towards global food sovereignty.


The Pesticides Reduction Regulation (i.e. the revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive) and Nature Restoration Law have the potential to become real game-changers to address the interlinked climate, biodiversity and health crises, promote sustainable food systems and safeguard our long-term food security.


We look forward to the publication of an ambitious Nature Protection Package next week and urge the EU to take into account the demands of civil society made in previous statements [10] (including in letters sent by NGOs to their national governments [11]), as well as the 1.2 million citizens asking for an 80% reduction in the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030 and a full phase out by 2035 in the European Citizens Initiative Save Bees and Farmers [12].


The European Commission has the responsibility to act now [13]; to save the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, and put Europe on a path of recovery for people and nature.


Signatories

Agroecology Europe

BeeLife

Birdlife

ClientEarth

Corporate Europe Observatory

Euro Coop

European Agroforestry Federation (EURAF)

European Coordination La Via Campesina (ECVC)

European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

European Federation of Trade Unions in the Food, Agriculture and Tourism (EFFAT)

Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO)

Feedback Europe

Foodwatch

Friends of the Earth Europe

Greenpeace

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

IFOAM Organics Europe

Justice Pesticides

Oceana

PAN Europe

Seas at Risk

Slow Food

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)

Urgenci International Network of Community Supported Agriculture