Here is the feedback that PAN Europe members have sent to the European Commission encouraging them to keep pesticides out of Ecological Focus Areas. You can add your voice here.
Pesticides should have no place in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs), there are already far too many pesticides used in EU agriculture and this use is driving species loss, water pollution and negative human health problems, particularly for farmers that use pesticides on a regular basis. If we are serious about halting biodiversity loss then perhaps a useful starting point is to ensure they are not used in EFAs. Farmers can apply pesticides to 95% of their land already, saving 5% as a haven from pesticides in order to assist in biodiversity and ecological conservation is not asking too much, in fact, it is not asking enough!
So using pesticides in an EFA would mean it is no longer an area of ecological focus, just simply another area contaminated with pesticides! Or as the European Economic and Social Committee said: “the use of pesticides in ecological focus areas is diametrically opposed to the intention of greening agricultural policy: pesticides do not help to increase biodiversity but damage it”.
The widespread pesticide use in agriculture is recognized as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. We face a situation that today common wild plants and wild animals that had been part of the biodiversity of agricultural areas for ages can now be found on the Red Lists of endangered species. The Pestizid Aktions-Netzwerk e.V. (PAN Germany) therefore welcomes and supports the proposition to ban the use of pesticides on so-called ecological focus areas. We recall the report from the European Economic and Social Committee which said: "the use of pesticides in ecological focus areas is diametrically opposed to the intention of greening agricultural policy: pesticides do not help to increase biodiversity but damage it". (Opinion by the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 September 2016 on the biodiversity policy of the EU, Article 4.7.4)
For further information please see PAN Europe factsheet "Making Ecological Focus Areas pesticide-free is the only way forward".
PAN Europe welcomes the idea of the European Commission to ban pesticide use in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). These EFAs were introduced as part of the greening measures of the 2013 reform of the CAP "in order to safeguard and improve biodiversity on farms". Banning pesticides is a simple and humble move to help citizens understand the "ECOLOGICAL" in ecological focus areas.
Reality so far, according to the European Commission analysis entitled "greening after one year" shows that:
1) the majority of the EFAs so far defined by Member States are linked to a productive activity — nitrogen-fixing crops and catch crops — accounting for 73.1 % of the total EFA area (before the application of weighting factors), and that
2) only a few Member States have introduced restrictions on pesticide use: three for catch crops (BE Flanders + Wallonia, DE, NL) and one for nitrogen-fixing crops (BE, Wallonia).
This is definitely not a satisfying situation and needs to be changed.
If we can’t even ban pesticides in EFAs, it is worth considering at least the continuation of the payment of the greening of the CAP in the next EU budget review. It is time to recall that EFAs is a tool able to attract more natural predators and pollinators into the fields again. and not only, extensive research work shows very clearly that, properly managed EFAs, deliver not just more biodiversity but can even result in yield increases in adjacent fields of greater than 10% for wheat, 20% for beans and 30% for carrots.
Many comments made by the farming community so far in this public consultation argue for the importance to reduce dependency on important protein crops. We welcome this remark but - like the 33 MEPs mentioned in their letter on this topic, we would like to recall that reducing this dependency will be best addressed by growing more leguminous crops as part of a crop rotation in the fields, while the main purpose of EFAs should become encouraging more biodiversity in the fields.