Ban Toxic 12

Ban the Toxic 12 - now

We have identified the 12 most toxic chemicals still authorised in the EU. They should not be in our food. They can either cause cancer, heart disease, lead to birth defects, seriously harm the environment or a combination of these. The EU has a regulation to substitute the most dangerous chemicals by less toxic alternatives. The EU Commission has committed to reduce the list of these chemicals by 50% in 2030. However, this means many more years of unnecessary exposure to very dangerous chemicals. So we want the Toxic 12 to go - now. And we're making progress: 2 of the 12 will be banned in 2024. So 10 more to go.


Under the EU Pesticide legislation, the most hazardous substances to human health or the environment must be strictly regulated to ensure a high level of protection. They can only be authorised in pesticide products by Member States when no safer alternative exists. The alternatives can be chemical substances or non chemical methods. This ‘substitution principle’ has been mandatory for all EU Member States since 2015. By 2030, the EU is committing to cut by 50% the use of these most dangerous pesticides containing these substances as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy.

In this context, the substitution of these most hazardous substances should help the EU move toward a sustainable food system and a toxic free environment. Yet, this campaign reveals that substitution with a non-chemical alternative has never taken place since 2015. Recently some of these pesticides have been banned, not because of substitution but because it was proven that they are too toxic to authorised.

Recent studies show that European citizens, including the most vulnerable groups, remain significantly exposed to the EU's most hazardous pesticides, whether through their food or in their environment

In total, 53 of these most hazardous substances are approved in the EU and found in hundreds of pesticides products. These substances are suspected of causing one or more severe impacts on human health, such as cancer, birth deformities or heart disease - or to be toxic to wildlife.

Our work

We have created a database on the 53 most hazardous substances approved in the E. The file includes detailed information on their toxicity to humans and the environment, and the level of exposure of consumers. In March 2023 the EU decided to ban 2 of them from 2024 onwards, so there are now 51 to go. In May 2023 some more are supposed to be banned. This is good news, but the progress is too slow.

We have identified the 12 most toxic chemicals for which we and our partners in the campaign demand an immediate ban:

The other demands of the campaign and the partners can be found in our campaign manifesto.

Forbidden Fruit report

In our report ‘Forbidden Fruit’, we revealed that EU consumers are increasingly exposed to residues of these most hazardous substances in fruits and vegetables grown in the EU. This exposure has risen by 50% for fruit between 2011 and 2019 and by more than 100% for products such as apples and pears.

With this campaign, we have undertaken long-term research on the drivers of the persistent presence of these most toxic substances in our environment and our plates. 

In our report ‘Pesticide paradise’, we showed that the reason why EU citizens keep being exposed to these most toxic substances is not the absence of alternatives to these most toxic substances but their downgrading during the substitution assessment. This report also documents and makes public the presence and influence of the pesticide industry at all stages of the elaboration of the substitution rules. 

We have sent our recommendations to the Commission on how to ensure that the substitution principle finally becomes effective, and that Member States start better protecting citizens and the environment while promoting sustainable crop protection. 

In Belgium, we are going to court to challenge the authorisation of two insecticides containing cypermethrin (one of the Toxic12). Belgium has not carried out a comparative assessment of alternatives and is therefore in violation of European substitution rules.

The EU decided on March 23, 2023 to ban two very toxic chemicals Ipconazole and Oxamyl. They are banned because they have been proven to be too dangerous. So they were not substituted, but banned. The same happened on May 24, 2023 with the fungicide Dimoxystrobin.


Relevant blogs & articles: 

  • Blog: EU finally bans 2 very toxic pesticides - including one of the Toxic 12 Read more>>
  • Blog: EU Commission to ban 3 very toxic pesticides: great, but what took so long? Read more>>
  • Blog: Cypermethrin: reason to challenge Belgium's authorisation system of toxic pesticides in national court Read more>>


Contact:  Salomé Roynel, Policy & Campaign Officer, +32 2 318 62 55, salome [at]



© Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.