Reprieve for nature on farms: attempt to sabotage pesticides ban fails in Parliament vote

Farmers across Europe who have been receiving several billions of euros of public money a year under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for improving nature on their land will no longer be able to spray pesticides on these areas. This no-brainer ban was given the green light by the European Parliament today, despite an attempt from MEPs on the agriculture committee to reject it at all costs.

The EEB welcomes the result of the vote.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with 141 members in 33 countries.

EEB Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, Faustine Bas-Defossez said:

“Thankfully MEPs have stood up for nature and people today. However, it is telling that members of Parliament’s agriculture committee were so hell bent on stopping a pesticide ban that will only apply to very modest areas of farmland.

“When it comes to deciding how to spend the 40% of the EU budget which is poured into the bloc’s ‘Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)’ every year, we need to break the stranglehold these MEPs have on the political process. A good start would be giving other committees more clout on the CAP, particularly as political negotiations on the future of the policy begin later this year. Given that Europe’s nature continues to be in dramatic decline, today’s near miss should be a wake-up call for those MEPs who do want a truly sustainable future for farming.”


Notes to Editors:

*363 MEPs voted in favour of a Resolution that sought to thrown out the ban – just short of the 376 required for a majority.

* The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was reformed in 2013 so that it would be greener, but this so-called reform did not materialise in our fields as a result of generous loopholes. 30% of the Common Agricultural Policy’s Pillar 1 budget goes to CAP greening measures.

* Public support for pesticides is dwindling. Nearly 1 million people have signed a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) petition to ban the pesticide glyphosate. And, as part of the ‘Living Land’ campaign in May 2017, over 258,000 people called for EU farm policy to protect our climate and environment, support farmers and rural communities, and safeguard public health.

* There is increasing evidence about the dramatic consequences of pesticide use on precious pollinators as well as on our own health.

* In another key vote today, MEPs weakened a key climate report by increasing the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from certain sectors that could be offset by extra emissions reductions in the land use sectors to 280 megatonnes. Under the so-called ‘EU Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR)’, binding annual GHG emissions targets for EU countries are set for the period 2021–2030. The ESR covers the transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management sector, which together account for almost 60% of total EU emissions.
The changes adopted today will result in the release of an additional 110 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere from sectors covered by the ESR – an amount equivalent to 3.5 (500 megawatt) coal power plants running for 10 years, or the annual emissions from 114 million cars.

EEB Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, Faustine Bas-Defossez, said:
“MEPs have just given some of the sectors which have caused the most damage to our climate a free pass to emit even more. At a time when the EU should be stepping up its climate commitments in light of Donald Trump’s desire to pull the United States out of the Paris deal, today’s vote result is a major setback.”

For more information:

Emily Macintosh, Communications Officer - Nature and Agriculture, European Environmental Bureau

+32 2 274 10 86