Plenary vote on SUR Nov 22: EU Parliament’s Last Chance for an Ambitious Regulation of Pesticides
The European Parliament will vote on November 22 its position on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR) before negotiations with the Council and the Commission. The SUR is a fundamental legislation that will establish the guidelines and limits of pesticide use. Considering the vast evidence on the massive impact of extended pesticide use on human health and wildlife, and the disruption of ecosystems, MEPs must ensure an ambitious SUR that seeks to limit the negative effects of pesticides. Although internal negotiations within the parliament have led to reduced ambitions and watered down measures, the vote in plenary is the time for MEPs to redirect the SUR and ensure the protection of human health, pollinators, and healthy ecosystems.
The upcoming vote on November 22 represents a significant opportunity for legislators to stand with safe agricultural practices, protect environmental health, and secure the ambitious sustainability goals set forth in the EU Green Deal and other roadmaps such as the EU Pollinators Initiative.
BeeLife urges MEPs to ensure the SUR integrates ambitious reduction goals, establishing plans to reduce the use of highly toxic pesticides and phasing out synthetic pesticides by 2035, as more than 1 million citizens requested the authorities through the European Citizens Initiative, Save Bees and Farmers.
SUR must also secure buffer zones to reduce risks of exposure to non-target organisms, which must be wide considering the extent of the drift of pesticide residues and the flight range of pollinators.
A safe SUR must also establish strict delimitations of pesticide use indicators and limits, finally incentivising farmers to implement a real Integrated Pest Management, as the law dictates since 2008. To ensure its effectiveness, however, MEPs should accept the initial proposal by COM ENVI in Article 43. The Article secures financial support for the SUR, thus empowering public agents and farmers to achieve safer practices and reduce dependence on intensive pesticide use.
Finally, the SUR should ensure that methods of aerial spraying, such as the integration of drones, do not transform into new uncontrolled ways of contamination that further harm pollinator health and biodiversity. Aerial spraying methods still carry risks related to higher dosage concentration, times of application during insect activity, effects on non-target species, and less than ideal precision in application. Therefore, aerial spraying should not be deemed in itself as a safe alternative for traditional spraying but instead should be evaluated on a case by case basis, with proper risk assessment.
BeeLife firmly calls for a coherent and harmonised approach that intertwines the principles of the EU Green Deal, the original ambitions of the Nature Restoration Law and the future Sustainable Use of Pesticide Regulation. The European Parliament has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future by crafting regulations that restore nature and safeguard it from the continued threats posed by extensive pesticide use. By fostering a cohesive framework that accounts for the health of ecosystems and all the living beings they sustain, the European Parliament can lead the way towards a brighter and more resilient natural world for current and future generations.
The Sustainable Use Regulation is the next opportunity to prove that the EU follows through with its environmental commitments, allowing it to become a genuine catalyst for positive change. The future of healthy ecosystems and the creatures that play an essential role in them, such as pollinators, depend on our collective will to make ambitious and far-reaching decisions. By watering down the SUR, MEPs would squander this opportunity to ensure coherent legislation and public policies for a sustainable future. Ambitious measures and financially supported pesticide use reduction are the only logical steps to follow if we truly seek a Green and sustainable Europe.