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Responding to European Commission’s public consultation on its plans for a Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products Regulation (SUR), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) has welcomed the proposal but calls for more significant and faster reduction of pesticide use in order to protect health from pesticide pollution across the EU.

The EU’s pesticide framework, which was first presented last June, was developed in line with the objectives of the bloc’s flagship Farm to Fork strategy. The SUR is expected to halve the use and risk of chemical pesticides across the EU by 2030.

The SUR is therefore a crucial piece of EU pesticides legislation as it will establish, for the first time, the legally binding pesticide reduction targets outlined in the Farm to Fork and the European Green Deal. The new regulation will replace the 2009 Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD), upgrading the legislation from a directive to a regulation in order to ensure coherent implementation, enforcement and compliance of the policy among member states.

Although HEAL considers the change of the directive to a regulation a welcome move, the proposal does not set out truly ambitious targets and measures to transition towards an agricultural model that protects health and prevents diseases linked with exposure to harmful chemicals.

In our contribution to the public consultation, which closed today, HEAL argues that:

  • The proposed pesticide reduction targets must be more ambitious. HEAL supports an 80% gradual reduction of the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030 aiming at a total phase out by 2035, and a complete ban of the more hazardous pesticides by 2030.
  • In line with the proposal, pesticides must be banned in all sensitive areas used by the general public, particularly vulnerable groups. Nevertheless, the proposed three metre pesticide-free buffer zone around such areas will fail to provide any protection from pesticide exposure. HEAL proposes a pesticide-free buffer zone of 50 or 100 metres depending on the sensitive area in question.

Click here to download HEAL’s feedback on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products Regulation proposal.