Negotiators from EU member states and the European Parliament have reached a compromise on the controversial pesticides ‘package’, ending a long battle over what substances should be banned due to their potential risk for human health and the environment.
The compromise reached in behind closed-doors talks during the evening of 17 December is set to ban a number of hazardous pesticides and cut down the overall use of so-called plant protection products. The texts are now set to be approved in a vote in Parliament in mid-January.
The agreement on new market authorisation rules divides the EU into three zones (north, centre, south) inside of which mutual recognition of pesticides will become the rule. However, member states will still be allowed to ban a product on the basis of specific environmental or agricultural circumstances.
It also introduces bans on:
- Certain highly toxic chemicals, namely those which are genotoxic, carcinogenic or toxic to reproduction (unless their effect would in practice be negligible), and;
- neurotoxic, immunotoxic and certain endocrine-disrupting substances if deemed to pose a significant risk.
However, the deal allows continued use of both the above-mentioned groups of chemicals for up to five years, if they are proven essential for crop survival. Otherwise, products containing certain hazardous substances are to be replaced within three years if safer alternatives are shown to exist.
The deal on sustainable use of pesticides:
- Asks member states to adopt national action plans on safer use of pesticides as well as overall usage reduction targets;
- bans aerial crop spraying, with exceptions subject to approval by member-state authorities;
- asks member states to establish approporiate measures, such as buffer zones, to protect aquatic organisms, and;
- bans the use of pesticides in public places, such as parks and school grounds, or at the very minimum asks for their use to be kept to a minimum.