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The European Parliament fails to support the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (SUR) Bill

On November 22, Members of the European Parliament voted to dismiss the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR) bill. It is a sad day not only for bees but for all of us European citizens.


The sustainable use of pesticides was the title of the 2009 Directive. Its incomplete implementation by member states led the European Commission to propose a regulation. The proposal, adopted on June 22, 2022, is part of a package of measures aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of the EU food system and mitigating the economic losses we are already experiencing due to climate change, the ever more costly depollution of natural resources such as water drinking water and loss of biodiversity. This project was in line with the Green Deal, an essential tool. This project was co-constructed with stakeholders, including farmers, consulted by the European Commission from May 2020.


Measures in the proposal included legally binding targets at EU and Member State level to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% as well as the use of the most dangerous pesticides by 2030. It also included a commitment towards the effective implementation of integrated pest management (IPM), deeming synthetic chemical pesticides as a last resort and a ban on pesticides in so-called “sensitive” areas. This last point will undoubtedly have been too sensitive for MEPs from the right and the extreme right. In the end, the use of pesticides will not be prohibited in places such as parks or public gardens, playgrounds, leisure or sports, public trails as well as protected areas in accordance with Natura 2000 and any ecologically sensitive area to be preserved for threatened pollinators.


Void of ​​its essence, the bill was no longer supported by part of the Left and the Greens because it became too weak. Indeed,what is the point of having a new law if it adds nothing to the one in force...


Noa Simon, Scientific Director of BeeLife stated: “How can we be happy with such a result? Peter Liese, German MEP, welcomes the non-ban on pesticides in protected ornithological areas... And the farmers defending an intensive model which is pushing us into an abyss are also rejoicing! What world do we live in? As a consumer and rural resident, I am very concerned that farmers are opposing the sustainable use of pesticides. What do you put in our food and water? What are you exposing us rural dwellers to?”


When some political movements and agricultural representatives celebrate this sad short-term result, it demonstrates once again their reluctance to change the paradigm despite accumulated scientific evidence. It also displays their unwillingness to change their practices and transition towards more sustainable development, one that respects and protects our pollinators, biodiversity and our natural resources (air, water, soil). 


The MEPs had worked hard for an agreement, compromises had been developed to gain the support of the parties, but the interest of some was only to reduce the scope of the text.

It is false that the SUR bill endangered food sovereignty. It was not idealistic. The bill was not disconnected from reality nor did it want to remove 65% of pesticides from the market as some have mentioned... The SUR bill was intended to be realistic; realistic to reduce the use of pesticides which contaminate us, contaminate soil, water and reduce the resilience of pollinators when they do not kill them. To the contrary, it was a realistic and necessary proposal to bring about the agro-ecological transition; realistic if we want to improve our health and that of our environment for current and future generations because yes, “We are borrowing the Earth from our children”.


Sad day…the European Parliament did not support SUR.


The SUR bill is now in the hands of the Commission and the Council.

BeeLife encourages the European Commission to get back to work, reinject ambition to the SUR and for the Council to take its responsibilities to offer European citizens a new text that meets the challenges.


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