Go ahead with the SUR regulation for the reduction of pesticides. Letter to the European Commission

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A large group of organizations representing farmers, consumers, health, environmental, trade and human rights organizations sign PAN Europe’s letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to urge the relaunch of the proposed regulation on the reduction of pesticides (SUR, Sustainable Use and Reduction of pesticides). (1)

SUR regulation, the betrayal of MEPs

The November 22 2023, it should be remembered, MEPs betrayed the expectations of European citizens by rejecting the SUR proposal, as instead requested by the ‘Big 4’ lobbies, the pesticide and seed monopolists, and the large agricultural confederations (COPA-Cogeca in the EU, Coldiretti in Italy). (2) The signatories of the letter express support for the European Commission and call on it to persevere.

Civil society – through numerous organisations, including Equality – reaffirms the urgency of the initiative which is fundamental to preserve the health of current and future generations from exposure to toxic chemical substances, the restoration of degraded ecosystems and the recovery of biodiversity, as well as the productivity and resilience of agri-food systems to guarantee food security.

The positions of European citizens

The citizens Europeans are aware of the dangers posed by the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides (very different from those used in organic farming) (3) and ask for protection at every opportunity:

– European citizens’ initiatives (ICE) ‘Save the bees and the farmers’ (4) and ‘STOP Glyphosate’ (5) have received support which clearly demonstrates the request to protect pollinators, the environment and, above all, the health of farmers,

– Eurobarometer surveys constantly reiterate the widespread concern among public opinion regarding the impact of pesticides on health and the environment, (6)

– the Conference on the Future of Europe provided citizens with a platform to express their aspirations and opt for a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system with significant reductions in pesticide use. (7)

– the Ipsos investigation report ‘Play it Safe’ further highlights the urgent need for action, as it sheds light on public perceptions and expectations regarding pesticide use. (8)

Well-founded fears

Science constantly emphasizes the fundamental need to reduce the use and associated risks of pesticides. Scientists continually warn policymakers about the harmful impact of pesticides on biodiversity, ecosystem services and food security. 

To protect the natural resources needed for resilient and sustainable food production is crucial in the face of growing environmental challenges‘, the organizations write.

Pesticides have been linked to negative effects on human health, biodiversity and ecosystem stability. And they have already poisoned two-thirds of the planet. (9) Without a regulation that dictates times and methods, it is utopian to believe that the trend can be reversed.

Marta Strinati

Footnotes

(1) The letter sent by PAN Europe to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen ATTACHMENT

(2) Dario Dongo. No to reducing pesticides, yes to glyphosate. ToxicEurope. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(3) Marta Strinati. Pesticides used in conventional and bio. Comparison of toxicity. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(4) Marta Strinati. The promoters of ‘Let’s save the bees’ meet the European Commission. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(5) European Citizens’ Initiative. Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides. https://citizens-initiative.europa.eu/initiatives/details/2017/000002/ban-glyphosate-and-protect-people-and-environment-toxic-pesticides_en

(6) Food safety in the EU. Eurobarometer. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2022-09/EB97.2-food-safety-in-the-EU_report.pdf

(7) Council of the European Union, General Secretariat of the Council, Conference on the Future of Europe – Report on the final outcome – May 2022, Publications Office of the European Union, 2022, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2861/607246

(8) Pesticides: Play it safe! PAN (Pesticide Action Network) https://www.pan-europe.info/resources/reports/2023/10/pesticides-play-it-safe

(9) Marta Strinati. Pesticides, two thirds of the planet at risk of environmental pollution. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".