Two important documents, including pesticide reduction targets, were meant to be published by the EU Commission earlier this year, but were postponed to 29/04 and then to probably 20/05, asa result of the massive lobbying efforts by the conventional farmers lobby. Progressively, leaked versions of the document highlight a reduction in ambition (e.g. no more mandatory pesticide reduction targets), heading towards a “business-as-usual” scenario.
The 2019-elected European Commission has given a breeze of fresh air to the institution with its new European Green Deal (EGD). Indeed, it has put forward the necessity for the EU to enter into a transition in order to make our economies sustainable to fight climate change and the collapse of biodiversity. Two very important policy documents were to be produced: the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy as well as the Biodiversity strategy (BS). One of the most important environmental measures to be included in both documents was the implementation of strict pesticide use reduction targets and the transformation of our agriculture towards agroecology. Linking public subsidies to farmers to the effective reduction in use of pesticides was under discussion, which was encouraging.
Both documents were meant to be published earlier this year, but were then postponed to 29/04 and then for a second time to probably 20/05, asa result of the massive lobbying efforts by the conventional farmers lobby. Progressively, leaked versions of the document highlight a reduction in ambition (e.g. no more mandatory pesticide reduction targets), heading towards a “business-as-usual” scenario.
This was already the case before Covid, but now it seems that agribusinesses take it a step further by trying to take advantage of the current crisis to block any unwanted environmental regulations. The Covid crisis is a key argument used by the agribusiness to maintain the current policies and block any form of transition. They are using the excuse that it is not the time to “impose new rules” on farmers, while we know that farmers need the F2F and BS strategies to help them transition towards agroecology.
In parallel, negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy are ongoing in the European Parliament. If they are not put on hold until the F2F and BS are published, this most important tool that we have to transform our EU agriculture towards a system that respects the well-being of humans, animals and the environment, will keep supporting industrial agriculture for another 6 years, thus ruining civil society efforts.
More than ever, the European Citizens' Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers!” can play a key-role in delivering a strong message to decision-makers. We must make it unmistakably clear to the Commission that putting in place an ambitious plan is still an urgency. While we deal with the the Covid-19 crisis, the collapse of biodiversity and climate change do not vanish.
The ECI therefore reminds EU decision-makers that the biodiversity and climate crises are still major issues for the planet and that citizens across Europe demand that they ACT NOW. We reiterate our crucial demands for a phasing-out of pesticides and a restoration of biodiversity by using public money.
That is why a significant increase in signatures for the ECI would have an important impact on the ongoing negotiations taking place in Brussels. A strong political signal is necessary and we need to act quickly. We currently have around 320.000 signatures, which is close to a third of the one million validated signatures in all 27 EU Member States required in order for the ECI to be considered successful and for it to be officially accepted by the European Commission. We need to drastically step up the signature collection and swiftly reach the 500 to 600.000 signatures so that we can achieve more impact on the current situation.
Yesterday Bayer-Monsanto held their annual shareholder meeting (virtually this year), making use of a new law passed to allow German companies to convene online stockholder meetings for the first time. Bayer is the largest pesticide manufacturer in the world since the acquisition of Monsanto. Companies like Bayer make 35% of their sales with highly dangerous pesticides (the so-called crop protection agents that Bayer brings to the market do not really protect plants -and certainly not nature-, but Bayer's profits). This company keeps telling the story about the absolute necessity of pesticides for the nutrition of the world population, but the FAO, the United Nations' Agricultural and Food Organization, came to the conclusion more than 10 years ago that the path to food security and the key to combating hunger lies in smallholder agriculture and agroecology.
If you want to support us in getting these toxic products out of the EU market, sign now the European Citizens' Initiative and spread it via email or social media.
Thanks for your great support.