European Civil Society Rises to Protect Public Health and Environment from Pesticides

05 May 2020

While EU Member States struggle with the Covid-19 crisis, agribusiness is taking advantage of the situation by acting to significantly water-down von der Leyen’s European Green Deal. The European civil society, gathered under the Save Bees and Farmers European Citizens’ Initiative, asks the European Commission to maintain ambitious objectives to protect peoples’ health, the environment and support the transition of European agriculture towards agroecology.

The European Commission was meant to publish the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies at the end of April, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the release date was pushed back to 20 May. Leaked documents have shown that the initial ambitious objective to render pesticide use reductions mandatory in Member States has been eroded over time. Organizations supporting the “Save Bees and Farmers” ECI are concerned that the risk of ending up with weak policy documents is highly significant as it could severely undermine ambitions to make EU food and farming more sustainable, as well as in terms of the so-called “green recovery” post Covid-19.

The development of both documents was presented in the frame of the European Green Deal disclosure in December 2019 by newly-elected president Ursula von der Leyen. Such an ambitious plan to protect the climate, the environment, and future generations is an unprecedented move on the European Commission’s part and has been widely supported by civil society organizations.

The initiative triggered an important behind-the-scenes reaction from the agribusiness industry to undermine the European executive’s ambitions. The conventional agriculture sector and agrochemical corporations were helped both by conservative parties in the European Parliament as well as by key public servants in the European Commission. Today, the Covid-19 crisis is a key argument used by the agribusiness to maintain the current policies and block any form of transition.

Photo by Anton Atanasov from Pexels

Members of the Save Bees and Farmers ECI demand the European Commission to stick to publishing strong Farm to Fork and Biodiversity policies because putting in place an ambitious plan is still an urgency. While we deal with the Covid-19 crisis, the collapse of biodiversity and climate change do not vanish.

Since the launch of the ECI, organizations across Europe have collected over 300 000 signatures, asking the Commission to phase out synthetic pesticides in the EU, restore biodiversity in agricultural areas and make use of the Common Agricultural Policy subsidies to set EU agriculture on the path towards agroecology.

Support the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers” today. 

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