No to reducing pesticides, yes to glyphosate. ToxicEurope

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reduction of pesticides

The European #farmtofork strategy definitively failed – this week – with the sabotage of the proposed regulation on the reduction of pesticides (SUR, Sustainable Use and Reduction of pesticides), which follows the tacit approval of the renewal of the use of glyphosate, or glyphosate. #ToxicEurope.

1) ‘Farm to fork’ strategy and pesticide reduction, the initial agreement

The European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen, in the ‘farm to fork’ strategy presented on 20 May 2020, promised to halve the use and toxicity of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, bactericides and other agrochemicals by 2030. As well as definitively banning their use in sensitive areas.

The Strasbourg assembly – in the resolution approved on 20 October 2021 – had fully accepted this strategy, as we have seen. And indeed, he had invited the Commission to also take into due account:

– the risks to human health and the environment associated with the combined use of the substances (‘cocktail effect’),

– chronic and cumulative toxic effects,

– the necessary protection of pollinating insects. (1)

2) Reduction of pesticides, the betrayal of MEPs

The EPP (European People’s Party), RenewEurope e ID (Identity and Democracy) political groups tried to boycott the proposed regulation for the reduction of pesticides as early as 24 May 2023, when the AGRI Commission of the European Parliament voted to reject it. (2) The ENVI referring Commission nevertheless voted a favorable report on the SUR proposal, which was then approved in the plenary session on 12 July 2023. (3)

Representatives of Parliament have thus started negotiations with the European Commission and the Council, with a view to defining the legislative process within the current legislature. (4) Civil society and the scientific community have mobilized, even at this stage, to urge the European institutions not to lose sight of the objectives of protecting public health, pollinators, ecosystems and biodiversity. In the confidence of being able to also correct the pesticide reduction indicators. (5)

The MEPs however, betrayed themselves – as well as the millions of voters who signed and support the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Save the Bees and the Farmers’ (6) – by voting for the radical rejection of the SUR regulation proposal, on 22 November 2023. With 299 votes against, 207 in favor and 121 abstentions. (7) Exactly as requested by the ‘Big 4’ lobbies, i pesticide and seed monopolists, and by the large agricultural confederations (i.e. COPA-Cogeca in the EU, Coldiretti in Italy).

3) Glyphosate, renewal ‘by inertia’

Governments of the member states in turn followed Big Ag’s orders on the renewal of the authorization for the use of glyphosate in the European Union, on 19 November 2023. The abstention from the vote of the three main producers of agri-food products – Germany, France, Italy – has made it possible to obtain the maximum result for the poison lobbies, since the European Commission now declares itself ‘forced’ to decide on the renewal for ten years. (8)

The previous renewal for ‘only’ five years, it is recalled, was granted on the basis of scientific fraud (9,10). Which was followed by others, and others still, in the blatant indifference of the national and European authorities (11,12). Until reaching a Solomonic opinion from EFSA – which does not even consider the risk assessment criteria (Adverse Outcome Pathway’, AOP) established by the same Authority in 2017 (13) – on the basis of which the European Commission declares itself ‘forced’ to proceed.

Member States ‘are responsible for the national authorization of ‘plant protection products’ (PPPs) containing glyphosate and continue to be able to limit their use at national and regional level if they deem it necessary based on the results of risk assessments, taking into account in particular the need for protect biodiversity‘. (8) Thus, miserably, Ursula Von der Leyen’s Commission justifies its political failure.

4) Toxic Europe

61,7% of the European agricultural area, equal to 2,3 million km2, is in conditions of high risk of pesticide pollution‘, according to the largest study ever conducted on a global level on this topic (Tang et al., 2021). (14) And pesticide consumption in the EU continues to increase, as we have seen. (15)

The 4 Corporations who control the global pesticide market have, however, invested at least 40,4 million euros over the last three years in lobbying activities aimed at sabotaging the ‘farm to fork’ strategy and the Pesticide Reduction Regulation (SUR). To preserve a business that is worth more than 12 billion euros in the EU alone.

#ProfitOverPeople

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. Farm to Fork, resolution in Strasbourg. Focus on pesticides and fertilizers. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.10.21

(2) Dario Dongo. Nature Restoration Law, the European Parliament boycotts the restoration of biodiversity. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 3.6.23

(3) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. Nature Restoration Law, the European Parliament approves the proposal. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 12.7.23

(4) Dario Dongo. Nature Restoration Law, reduction of pesticides. MEPs at the service of agro-industrial lobbies. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.10.23

(5) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. Reduction of pesticides in the EU, ahead with mockery. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 25.10.23

(6) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. World Bee Day, world bee day. No eligible policy. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.5.23

(7) European Parliament. No majority in Parliament for legislation to curb use of pesticides. Press release. 21.11.23 https://tinyurl.com/c6cd7pn5

(8) European Commission. No qualified majority reached by Member States to renew or reject the approval of glyphosate. Press release. 16.11.23 https://tinyurl.com/mt7drwwz

(9) Dario Dongo. Glyphosate, the Berlin zoo. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.11.17

(10) Dario Dongo, Fabrizio Adorni. Glyphosate, the fake studies used by Bayer for the renewal of the authorization. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 8.12.19

(11) Dario Dongo. Glyphosate, other frauds in the scientific studies produced by the ‘Corporation’. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.2.20

(12) Dario Dongo. Glyphosate, civil society denounces fraud in view of the ten-year renewal in the EU. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 3.10.23

(13) Dario Dongo. Glyphosate and neurotoxicity, doubts and questions from a toxicologist. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 3.11.23

(14) Tang, FHM, Lenzen, M., McBratney, A. et al. Risk of pesticide pollution at the global scale. Nat. Geosci. 14, 206–210 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00712-5

(15) See paragraph 2 of the article cited in note 4

(16) Sabotaging EU Pesticide Reduction Law (SUR). Pesticide industry lobby’s reckless assault on biodiversity and health. Corporate Europe Observatory. 19.11.23 https://corporateeurope.org/en/2023/11/sabotaging-eu-pesticide-reduction-law-sur

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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