MEP Grace O’Sullivan says decision “bitter blow for biodiversity and human health and a big win for agrochemical lobby”
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced today the withdrawal of a landmark EU law to reduce the use of harmful pesticides across the European Union.
The Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR) was first tabled in June 2022 with the goal of slashing pesticide use by 50% by 2030. It also set out strong bans on pesticide use in sensitive areas, such as urban green spaces, playgrounds, and nature reserves.
However the law came under intense scrutiny from the agricultural sector and conservative MEPs eventually led a rejection of the law in the European Parliament. Some EU governments also disagreed with the initial proposal of the Commission, which formed a significant part of the ‘European Green Deal’ project.
MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan said: “It is an act of insanity during the largest collapse of biodiversity in history to row back on this legislation. In Ireland our biggest loss of wildlife is in insects and organisms that form the base of our food chain. They are the most susceptible to pesticide use and without them entire populations of wildlife collapse as well as soil quality, water quality, and eventually food production for humans. This is a bitter blow for biodiversity and human health and a big win for the agrochemical lobby’s profits.”
The end of the Sustainable Use Regulation closes the book on Farm 2 Fork, a Commission strategy unveiled in May 2020 that set the goal of making Europe's food systems healthier and more sustainable. The Commission now has to wait until the EU elections in June before proposing any new legislation.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Grace O’Sullivan added: “What’s even more tragic is that MEPs and Member States came together even to protect the practice of spraying pesticides in places like national parks, schoolyards and vulnerable rivers. We are rowing back on our promise to leave a better world behind for our children. It is now in Ireland's interest to plough ahead with our own tight regulations of pesticides in these places, in the absence of EU action.”