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Troubling Proposals to Loosen Pesticide Use Regulation in Europe from Within the European Parliament

Updated: May 17

Amidst decreasing support for environmental protection policies, more political actors are following the misguided path to weaken European green policies. Recently, BeeLife had access, thanks to Secrets Toxiques, to a letter by MEP Norbert Lins, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament. This letter advocates for loosening pesticide market authorisation regulations in the forthcoming Commission mandate. We firmly oppose this proposal based on the solid evidence pointing to the environmental and health risks that necessarily come with inaction and reversing measures aiming to achieve an agroecological transition. A coalition of civil society organisations, including BeeLife, has reacted to the troubling proposal for deregulation in a letter to the Commissioners for Health and Food Safety and for Agriculture

In addition to the response letter sent by the coalition, we present some additional comments below.

Lins refers particularly to Regulation (EC) 1107/2009, which establishes the rules for pesticide use concerning their effects on human health and the environment. However, the Regulation has been insufficiently applied, and its enforcement encountered major issues, with significant loopholes persisting. The situation is alarming, considering that scientific evidence continues to prove the detrimental impacts of pesticides on human health and the environment, besides its adverse effects contributing to the decline of insect populations across Europe.

Contrary to assertions presented in the letter and advanced by MEPs advocating for it, the current regulatory framework is not overly stringent but rather inadequately enforced. A recent judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union reaffirmed this while emphasising the need for rigorous risk assessment in pesticide approval processes [1].

Calling for a reversal in green policies contradicts Europe’s pressing need for sustainable and fair agriculture. Transitioning to sustainable agriculture is not only possible, although requiring the political commitment to achieve it, it is also a pressing necessity. Advocates, including farmers, agronomists, scientists, and citizens, call for a paradigm shift towards safer and more sustainable agricultural practices.

In a recent correspondence, we at BeeLife urged the European Commission to uphold stringent principles in pesticide regulation, embrace Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and prioritise sustainable alternatives over chemical pesticides as crucial steps towards fostering a resilient agricultural system. 

Amid the upcoming European elections, proposals for deregulation and business as usual should be seen for what they are: troubling measures that will mainly benefit the interests of big players in the agroindustry. Instead, we need our European institutions to move forward and secure a healthy and sustainable future with ambitious and appropriately enforced policies that protect citizens and nature from identified hazardous chemicals.

[1] CJEU. 2024. Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 25 April 2024. Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) v College voor de toelating van gewasbeschermingsmiddelen en biociden.


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