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13.01.2009

 

Greens hail Euro-parliament vote to phase out hazardous pesticides

The decision to phase out highly hazardous pesticides sets a new milestone for environment and health protection. This regulation, the first of its kind in the world, will bring clear health benefits and improve both food and water quality in the European Union.
The European Parliament today voted in favour of new rules for the authorisation of pesticides in the EU. (1) Commenting on the decision, German Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer, who was the European Parliament draftswoman for the regulation, said:

"The decision to phase out highly hazardous pesticides sets a new milestone for environment and health protection. This regulation, the first of its kind in the world, will bring clear health benefits and improve both food and water quality in the European Union.

Today's vote is a major success in the face of intensive lobbying by the pesticides industry and certain farmer representatives, who tried to dilute and obscure the rules until the very last minute.

Pesticides that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or damage reproduction will now be phased out in Europe, unless exposure to them is negligible. Other substances that will not be reapproved include those that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs). First criteria have been defined for endocrine disruptors, also to be phased out, and there will be stricter safety criteria for pesticides that are immunotoxic or harmful to the development of the nervous system.

The regulation recognises the importance of bees to pollination and the problem of their dwindling numbers in Europe. From now on, pesticides must be proven to have no unacceptable acute or chronic effects on bees to be introduced or allowed to stay on the market.

The regulation will also have the knock-on benefit of cutting the use of hazardous pesticides elsewhere, since fruit and vegetables imported to the EU must not contain banned pesticides. Bananas from Costa Rica, for example, may no longer contain pesticides known to be harmful to reproduction.

I also welcome that the European Parliament has stood up for strict provisions on derogations.

(1) 577 votes in favour, 61 against and 11 abstentions. Second reading in the European Parliament on the compromise agreement with Council. The regulation will come into force shortly after publication in the EU Official Journal.