Years of use of mineral fertilisers rich in cadmium – a dangerous carcinogen – has polluted soil and the crops that grow our food, leading to major health and environmental problems. While reducing cadmium pollution from other sectors in the EU has been largely successful, farming remains the last major bastion of cadmium exposure.
Now, in a move welcomed by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the European Parliament has backed a Commission plan to limit the amount cadmium allowed in mineral fertiliser products sold across Europe.
The EEB is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe with around 140 members in more than 30 countries.
In a European Parliament plenary vote, MEPs voted in favour of the Commission proposal to reduce cadmium levels in fertilisers to 20mg/kg. Shamefully, some MEPS were pushing for a 60mg/kg limit and even an 80mg/kg limits.
EEB Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, Faustine Bas-Defossez, said:
“Not only is cadmium a carcinogen but it is also linked to osteoporosis, kidney failure, heart disease, and fertility problems. Around 910,000 adults in France alone exceed tolerable intake limits of cadmium by 90%. Cadmium is also a danger to our previous environment as it pollutes waterways and soil. Thankfully the European Parliament has stood up for health and the environment today but it is shameful that so many MEPs attempted to keep high levels of this dangerous carcinogen in the fertilisers that are spread on the crops that grow our food.”
Notes to Editors:
> Luckily a last-minute amendment that sought to use the fertilisers review as a vehicle to weaken the Nitrates Directive through the back door was not adopted. The Nitrates Directive is a fundamental piece of EU environmental legislation which aims to protect water by restricting use of manure in polluted areas. In other good news, a series of amendments that sought to stop any new potentially dangerous substances used in fertiliser products from being risk assessed to see if they should go on the EU’s list of banned chemicals – otherwise known as REACH – were also not adopted.
Faustine Bas-Defossez, Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, European Environmental Bureau