Pesticides: groups raise pressure ahead of EP vote

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Industry and farm groups are on the defensive as environmental NGOs engaged in a targeted publicity campaign in Parliament yesterday (10 October) to muster support for an upcoming vote on tougher rules for pesticide use in the EU. 

As part of their campaign, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Netherlands publicly tested a number of fruits obtained in a Parliament supermarket for pesticide residues.

The group found residues of 28 substances in their samples, all of which “have known or suspected links with negative impacts on human health”, the groups said. Residue levels found in some of the fruits, notably oranges, grapes and apricots, exceeded the EU’s legal limits, or Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), according to their press statement.

A spokesperson for the groups called the findings “a total indictment of food products on sale in the EU”. 

The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) reacted to the residue testing event by reminding "consumers and MEPs to eat their fruit". 

In addition to emphasising the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, the association cited results from tests by the EU Residues Monitoring Programme which "show that consumers are not exposed to residues that could ever threaten their health. Occasional exceedences in trading standards (MRLs) that sometimes occur stay well within the safety standards which also take infants and children into consideration".

ECPA has also launched a special website as part of an public awareness campaign to shift opinion in favour of less stringent pesticide use and authorisation rules, while a coalition of health and environment advocacy groups have set up their own website in support of a strict and limited EU pesticides regime.

On 12 September, Parliament's Environment (ENVI) Committee voted to tighten a number of aspects of the Commission's proposed regulation on pesticide authorisation (EURACTIV 12/09/07), following an earlier vote by the committee in favour of strict pesticide usage restrictions and reduction targets (EURACTIV 26/06/07).

Pesticide producers and users, notably farmers, are concerned that Parliament's stance on the Commission's pesticides strategy is heavy-handed and will lead to "the disappearance of many substances that have long been used safely by farmers and which farmers need to protect their crops from disease".

  • 22 Oct. 2007: First-reading vote in Parliament on the pesticides strategy

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