Published: 10/28/2007 - Updated: 02/17/2018
The European Parliament has proposed this week reducing pesticide use by half in the space of a decade, in this way reducing the amount of hazardous chemicals in the environment.
Today, 40 percent of fruits and vegetables that are sold in the European Union (EU) may contain pesticide residues, which exceed the concentration limit at five per cent of cases by the World Health Organization (WHO), as pointed out some environmental organizations.
European Network Against Pesticide Action (PAN) said that children are most vulnerable. It is estimated that the risk is 164 times higher than in the case of adults against the chemicals that are used routinely in agriculture. The European Commission (EC), the EU executive body, recommended in the July update of a 1991, a law that regulates the use of pesticides and restrictions that should be introduced.
Although some of these recommendations were generally welcomed in the European Parliament, for example referring to a partial ban on the spraying from the air, some MEPs called for more drastic measures for a debate on Monday. The Committee on the Environment called for the adoption of binding targets, to reduce chemical use by 25 percent within five years and 50 percent for 2017.
Meanwhile, Hiltrud Breyer, the German Green Party MEP, said that Europe uses 260,000 tons of pesticides annually, one quarter of global consumption, but has only four per cent of total land devoted to agriculture.
Protecting water sources
Breyer, who prepared the environmental committee's official position against the European Commission proposal also called for tougher measures to protect water, believe that measures should be taken to ensure that no pesticides are used less than 10 meters of water flows.
Meanwhile, Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde agreed with that proposal. "Fortunately we have pure water underground, so it is safer to drink tap water to bottled. I support the ban because I do not want the polluters," he said.
But other legislators believe that the protection zone of 10 meters is too high. Dutch MEP Johannes Blokland said that there are problems for farmers in his country, by the proximity of the land to watercourses. "No pesticides could be used in more than one third of them," he said.
In addition, the socialist Dorette Corbey, also from the Netherlands, said that national governments should determine the extent of the protection zone, while the liberal Jan Mulder felt that adopting a 10-meter "would be a disaster for the Netherlands, among other countries. "
In this regard, the European Commissioner for Environment Stavros Dimas, said he supported the idea of a protection zone, but was in favor of letting each EU member country determines its length.
Dimas said that the European laws on pesticides focused on placing on the market, but that was a "legislative vacuum" on ways to use that must be filled. But agree with the idea of limiting the aerial spraying found that a total ban would be "too extreme". "We should give Member States some flexibility," he said.
European Commissioner for the Environment rejected the introduction of a tax on pesticides in force in all EU countries and the need to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages before proposing such an alternative.
Division in three areas of Europe
The European Commission has proposed dividing Europe into three areas (north, center and south) to regulate the use of pesticides.
But environmentalists are opposed to this idea. They say it is wrong to group temperate regions such as Brittany, with more arid as Cyprus. Both belong to the south, as proposed by the Commission, and therefore a pesticide approved for Cyprus would also be permitted in northern France.
Danish Socialist MEP Dan Jorgensen noted that in his country there are 100 pesticides currently authorized, but are taking steps to reduce that number by half. If approved the plan of the Commission, Denmark will not be able to prevent the introduction of new ones. "This will make it easier for the industry. It's the wrong way to approach the issue," he said.
According to the French Green Party MEP Marie Anne Isler Béguin, industry and governments dictate our policy on pesticides and this has really damaged the environment and people's health. Therefore concluded that it is necessary that legislators face "the chemical industry."