Pesticide Use in Europe

The use of pesticides is not decreasing

The use of pesticides on average in Europe did not decrease in recent years despite much debate on the sustainability of agriculture and despite the entering on the market of pesticides that can be used at low doses. 

Between 2011 and 2020 pesticide sales in the EU were almost stable, around 350,000 tonnes per year. The vast majority is used in the agricultural sector.

The European Commission has since 2011 published EU statistics on pesticide sales and the European Environment Agency's overview, while the publication on pesticide use -which could start giving us information about different agricultural crops pesticide use-  is still only in its making.

It is surprising that the EU is not able to collect and publish these statistics taken into account that EU regulation No 1107/2009 on the authorisation of plant protection products specifies in article 67 that each farmer needs to register crops and pesticide use and keep these records.
While pesticide record-keeping is also already under conditionality of the Common Agricultural Policy as the Food Law (Regulation No 178/2002) and its associated rules, in this case, Regulation No 183/2005 on feed hygiene which in its Annex I, section II, (2) (a) states that “feed operators must, in particular, keep records on any use of plant protection products and biocides”. 

The recent report from the European Commission concerning statistics on pesticides, it is acknowledged that "pesticides are a cause of pollution and have a direct effect especially on the state of biodiversity, water bodies, and soils. To ensure that these impacts are addressed appropriately, it is essential that policymakers are able to quantify the risk and the level of pesticide pollution. This would also aid the better implementation of existing environmental policy tools and serve to identify the remaining policy gaps for addressing the environmental pressures caused by pesticides. Currently, the policies concerned by the data needs are the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020, the common agricultural policy (CAP), the Water Framework Directive, and the Thematic Strategy on Soils."

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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.