Farm to Fork: New rules to reduce the risk and use of pesticides in the EU


What has been proposed today and what are the next steps?

The Commission has proposed new rules to reduce the use and risk of pesticides in the EU, delivering on the Farm to Fork Strategy objective of a fair, healthy and environmentally respectful food system.

They introduce:

  • Legally binding targets: binding EU-level targets to reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides and the use of the more hazardous pesticides by 2030. Member States will have to set their own reduction targets within clearly defined parameters as well as their own strategies to ensure that the EU wide target is achieved collectively.
  • Strict new rules to enforce environmentally friendly pest control: a comprehensive new enforcement framework to ensure that all farmers practice Integrated Pest Management ‘IPM’, in which all alternative methods of pest control are considered first, before chemical pesticides can be used as a last resort measure.
  • A ban on the use of all pesticides in sensitive areas: the use of all pesticides is prohibited in sensitive areas (and within 3 metres of these areas), such as public parks or gardens, playgrounds, recreation or sports grounds, public paths, as well as ecologically sensitive areas
  • Exceptional EU support: Farmers will be supported by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in this transition: for 5 years, Member States can use the CAP to cover the costs of the new requirements for farmers.
  • The new rules will be laid down in a Regulation, which is directly binding on all Member States.

Why are you proposing these new rules?

These rules translate our commitment to halt biodiversity loss in Europe into action, to protect health, to help build sustainable food systems in line with the European Green Deal and to ensure lasting food security. They are a recognition that tackling climate and environmental-related challenges is this generation’s defining task.

Scientists and citizens are increasingly concerned about the use of pesticides and the build-up of their residues and metabolites in the environment. In the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe citizens specifically requested to address the use and risk of pesticides.

The existing rules on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD)have proven to be too weak and have been unevenly implemented. The recent SUD evaluation, as well as conclusions of Reports from the Court of Auditors and the European Parliament, showed that there was insufficient progress in reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment. They also noted insufficient progress in promoting the use of Integrated Pest Management and alternative approaches or techniques, such as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides, in part, because already now chemical pesticides can harm human health and continue to contribute to biodiversity decline in agricultural areas, contaminate the air, the water and the wider environment:

  • There are major risks to the health of citizens linked to the use of chemical pesticides, especially for those persons using them but also for vulnerable groups and children. Pesticides can cause both acute and long-term health impacts. Chemical pesticides can have dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, carcinogenic, respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine effects. High occupational, accidental, or intentional exposure to pesticides can result in hospitalisation and death. Already in 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about one million cases of unintentional pesticide poisonings occur annually, leading to approximately 20,000 deaths. A recent review estimates that about 385 million cases of unintentional acute pesticide poisonings occur annually world-wide including around 11,000 fatalities.
  • Each year between 2013 and 2019, pesticides were detected above their effect threshold at between 13 to 30% of all surface water monitoring sites of European rivers and lakes.

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European Commission, 22-06-22