MEPs reject bill to cut pesticide use in half

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) rejected the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products Regulation (SUR) today, which aimed to slash the use of chemical pesticides in half by 2030. There were 299 votes against and 207 for the bill; 121 MEPs abstained.

The Commission must now consider withdrawing the proposal.

Rapporteur MEP, Sarah Wiener, said it was “a very dark day for the environment and farmers.”

Campaign groups in favor of lowering the use of such chemical substances in EU farming said the striking down of the draft legislation was a direct result of agro-industry lobbying efforts.

Those advocates argued that despite the wide scientific and public consensus on the need to phase out pesticides, the originally ambitious Commission regulation proposal had been strongly watered-down with the adoption of amendments suppressing national binding targets and rules for integrated pest management. The result, they continued, is that MEPs decided to vote against the emptied-out proposal.

Madeleine Coste, Slow Food advocacy director, said a majority in the Parliament decided to “side with the agroindustry and its allies, who have lobbied against this proposal over the last two years, ignoring the scientific consensus on the need to transform our current food system.

“It is outrageous that scientists’ and citizens’ voices are ignored in this way, and a worrying prospect for the fate of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, and the transition to sustainable food systems.”

Clara Bourgin, food, farming, and nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said conservative MEPs “delivered the final blow” to the law. “We’re now back to square one, with no proposal to tackle the biodiversity crisis, secure long-term food security and protect people’s health.”