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On 22 November 2023, Members of the European Parliament voted against the draft text for a Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR), following a substantial hollowing out of the draft law. This is worrying news for health, as the proposed measures to reduce the use of harmful pesticides significantly across the EU would have brought major benefits for everyone’s health.

“Synthetic pesticides threaten people’s health, and children are especially at risk. We regret that a majority of the European Parliament failed to listen to the science and people’s demands, opting to hollow out the draft pesticides reduction law of meaningful preventative measures to protect health instead. Health groups will continue to highlight the independent evidence and the urgency to act with swift reduction measures to prevent disease and protect those most vulnerable, especially children,” says Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director and Strategic Lead at HEAL.

Over 1 million people have called for an 80% gradual reduction of the use of synthetic pesticides by 2030, and a total phase out by 2035.

The evidence on the harmful effects of hazardous pesticides on people’s health is substantial, and continues to grow. Independent studies have linked exposure to hazardous pesticides to a range of health impacts and diseases in adults and children. This includes cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia, neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairment, neurodevelopmental and behavioural disorders, respiratory health disorders, endocrine disruption, and reproductive disorders.

Pesticides also impact biodiversity, with consequences for people’s health. Biodiversity is crucial to human nutrition and ensures soil productivity. The World Health Organization (WHO) states pesticide use has negative effects on biodiversity, and the decline in the number of pollinators can lead to losses in crops. This in turn can lead to a shift toward unhealthier diets and an increase in related chronic illnesses and health impacts such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke. 

Click here for more information about HEAL’s work on the SUR. 

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