A great portion of European agriculture depends on the use of crop protection products. Without these, farmers would lose staggering amounts of yield and consumers would be at serious risk of food-borne diseases. Out of necessity, the crop protection tools must be toxic, otherwise they would not counteract the pests, diseases, and weeds that can cause serious harm to our food supply. The ELO fully understands that this toxicity is a matter of concern to many.
However, Europe currently appears to be on an unsustainable track of removing such products from the market without providing adequate alternatives to farmers, or even forcing them to rely on other, often more harmful, products and methods.
In 2017, the continuing debate on glyphosate demonstrated the deeply entrenched positions on these issues, where many Member States and policy-makers continued to resist the re-authorisation even after the European Chemicals Agency, along with most worldwide regulators, confirmed that it was not carcinogenic. After a last-minute change at the standing committee, the licence for glyphosate was renewed for 5 years, even though a full 15 year renewal was wholly supported by procedure and scientific evidence.
The European Parliament also rejected the European Commission’s proposal for endocrine disruption as they considered it not sufficiently protective of human health. These proposals could have a severe impact on many active ingredients and products currently in use by farmers.
Next year, we can expect a renewed discussion on the neonicotinoid class of chemicals as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) releases its findings, as well as a new EU Communication on pollinator health.