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The “Save Bees and Farmers!” European Citizens’ Initiative alliance is a growing network of currently over 140 environmental NGOs, farmer and beekeeper organisations, charitable foundations and scientific institutions distributed throughout the European Union, working together to reconcile agriculture, health and biodiversity.
Over the last decade, a significant number of citizen movements across the EU have emerged to oppose pesticides - and the model of intensive agriculture which is destroying biodiversity and thus our livelihoods. There was a much-debated a local referendum organised in the South Tyrol village of Mals; 1.7 million citizens signed an initiative to save bees in Bavaria; regular “Stop pesticides” protests in Italy; and finally the “We want poppies” monthly actions throughout France: citizens want to show their decision-makers they do not support current environmental, agricultural and pesticides policies.
The alliance was initiated by civil society organisations working in the fields of agriculture, health and environmental protection. They found that times were ripe for making ambitious political demands concerning agriculture and biodiversity. The bulk of mounting scientific evidence stressing the crucial nexus between intensive agriculture, biodiversity collapse, climate change, and a rapid decrease in family farms, leaves no other choice but a rapid change in food production systems.
The “Save Bees and Farmers!” ECI alliance’s vision is that of a European Union in which agriculture is a vector of people’s well-being in terms of employment, health and biodiversity recovery. We wish to redevelop vibrant rural areas where small-scale farms provide decent employment to villagers while producing healthy food in balance with nature, enabling biodiversity to heal from the environmental disaster caused by the emission of agrochemicals on our land for decades.
This ECI has been officially submitted to the European Commission by seven European citizens:
- Annemarie Markt (farmer, Italy), victim of pesticide drifts on her organic farm;
- Constantin Dobrescu (Romapis, Romania), representative of Romanian national beekeepers’ organisation;
- François Veillerette (Générations Futures, France), prominent figure of the anti-pesticide movement in France;
- Helmut Burtscher-Schaden (Global 2000, Austria), prominent figure of the European movement to replace carcinogenic herbicide glyphosate with environmentally-friendly alternatives;
- Karl Bär (Umweltinstitut München, Germany), environmental activist, researching on pesticide transport through air and supporting communities wishing to protect themselves against pesticides
- Martin Dermine (PAN Europe, Pesticide Action Network), Veterinarian, beekeeper and campaigner for biodiversity, health, soil and clean water.
- Noa Simon (Bee Life, Belgium), active for more than 10 years to support the beekeeping sector against toxic pesticides and to reform the Common Agricultural Policy;
- Polyxeni Nicolopoulou Stamati (Environmental pathologist, Greece), Medical Doctor concerned by the negative impact of pesticides on human health.