A total of 76 civil society organizations in the EU have sounded the alarm, in a joint statement sent to Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the “deficiencies” of the draft of the new norm of Statistics on Inputs and Agricultural Products that the aforementioned organizations are negotiating at this very moment. This is a rule that will establish the degree of information that will be required on the actual use of pesticides in each of the countries of the European Union. These entities affirm that said information will be totally insufficient, despite dealing with an issue that affects public health: “If the text becomes law, the data collected on the use of pesticides will be too scarce, too late and with a worrying uncertainty. about what will actually be published.”
This issue is especially relevant in Spain, which is the European country where the most pesticides are sold, according to the latest Eurostat data, as recalled by Carlos de Prada, director of Hogar sin Tóxicos, one of the signatory entities, which has been working for years in favor of reducing the use of these substances in Spain.
According to this expert, “not having enough information on the use of pesticides may hamper European plans to reduce the use of these poisons, by not being able to adequately verify whether their employment grows or decreases. It is absolutely key to have reliable information as detailed as possible and in a timely manner about what pesticides are being used, where, when and in what quantities”.
Carlos de Prada emphasizes that “not knowing the real situation is like living with a blindfold before something that represents a serious risk. The only ones that have been benefiting from the existing lack of control are some large companies that profit from the sale of hundreds of thousands of tons of these poisons.”
This lack of knowledge, he adds, favors the excessive use of pesticides and can have very negative effects.since not having precise data makes it difficult, for example, to identify areas where water contamination may occur or where exposure to pesticides may be causing damage to human health or biodiversity.
The 76 signatory entities of the document point out that, if what has been agreed so far is not amended, it would be necessary to wait until 2028 to have the first annual data collection made by the authorities of the countries on the use of pesticides by farmers.
It is something that these entities reject, that they ask that the rule oblige the European Commission to have a harmonized electronic format operational before January 1, 2023 and that the transition period for the first digital collection of all farmer records for all crops is available at least in 2025.
In addition, the signatory organizations ask that the rule make it mandatory for national governments to annually collect all data on the use of pesticides from farmers and that there be due specification by areas.
Right to information
The joint statement sent to the European authorities also denounces that the new regulation in preparation “undermines the right of citizens to information”, since it does not adequately guarantee that the data on the use and sales of all pesticides are actually published. by active substance in full compliance with the rules on access to environmental information.
Thus, “a provision should be included specifying the necessary dissemination of data on the use and sale of pesticides that explicitly indicates in advance the level of detail that will be published. It is essential that the data be made known by active substance, surface treated (ha) and by crop, and that said data be in the public domain”, they point out.
Furthermore, they claim that there are too many potential exceptions in the Commission proposal, which could unduly limit the information transmitted to Eurostat in relation to pesticides. The entities claim that these exceptions or exemptions do not apply to data on pesticides.
Until now, as denounced in the joint statement, little data is collected and published in the EU on the volume of pesticide use, and “it is essential to improve this situation, since having such information is essential for to be able to take appropriate action on substances on which evidence is accumulating of unacceptable harm to biodiversity and human health”.
The pesticide reduction strategy, in the air
In addition, the lack of proper knowledge about the real amounts of pesticides used in a country can seriously damage plans to reduce the use of these agricultural poisons in the continent, by make it difficult to verify that the objectives set out in the European Green Deal are actually being metspecifically the strategy Farm-to-Forkwhich promotes a strong reduction in the use of pesticides by 2030.
“Without reliable data, it will be difficult to verify that pesticide use is actually reduceda central element in the transition towards an ecological agricultural model, which would overcome a conventional production model that does not even benefit the farmers themselves economically”, indicate these organizations.
They also denounce that, despite the fact that for a decade there has been a formal obligation for farmers to keep a record of the pesticides they use available to the authorities, this data is not systematically collected and “it is not uncommon that, if someone would like to access those records, for example a team of scientists or any other entity or person, is forced to go to court”.
As stated in the statement, “Pesticide use and its risks to human health and the environment are out of control” Y Having such data would help “rebuild the confidence of EU citizens in national governments, the EU institutions and in their will to protect public health and the environment against the weight of private interests, such as groups of agrochemical pressure”.
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