Lack of environmental as well as public health considerations in the proposal for a new EU Common plant health regime

Brussels

6 May 2013 - Today, the European Commission has adopted "a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain" and, as part of this, a proposal for an updated EC Common plant health regime.

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) welcomes that Member States, as part of the new plant health reform proposal, will have to establish proper survey programmes. Nevertheless it is a missed opportunity not to highlight what kind of actions might be done for prevention. Therefore the reform proposal fails in targeting environmental and public health concerns with no propositions on what can be done to ensure less use of pesticides as well as the alternatives programme.

The new plant health regulation proposal aims at ensuring that ‘new’ pests are being discovered and eradicated at an early stage to reduce the spreading possibilities. Extra funding has been found within the new EU budget to both ensure new requirements such as national survey programmes as well as compensate operators for the value of destroyed plant subject to eradication plans.

While PAN Europe welcomes the idea of national survey programmes, we ask for a full integration of these into the actions already foreseen in the Sustainable Use Directive(1); as well as ensure a proper national pest and pesticide surveillance system with development of monitoring system, decision supporting systems, the establishment of sufficient number of traps, establishment of farm advisory systems to advise on alternatives, and, last but not least, establishment of an expert panel for biological control.

Furthermore, PAN Europe proposes that rather than compensating operators for the value of destroyed plant-which could mean spraying a lot of hazardous pesticides- it would instead be more logical to transfer part of this extra funding to the agri-environmental scheme of the Common Agricultural Policy, in order to encourage farmers to develop more resilient systems, less vulnerable to potential pest attack in the first place. It should at least make sure that the level of compensation offered to the farmer is directly proportional with the number of preventive measures that the farmer has taken to prevent the pest from coming and spreading.

Francois Veillerette, PAN Europe President: „ As the reform proposal stands, the EU will first pay direct payments to farmers growing monoculture maize as part of the CAP payments, and now we also wish to compensate them in case of a potential pest attack. Would it not be smarter for both the environment, public health as well as the whole society, if the farmers produced in the first place in a different way?

With the new Common Agricultural Policy and the fact that each farmer in the EU needs to apply integrated pest management as from the 1st of January 2014 -according to the Sustainable Use of Pesticide ‘Directive EC 2009/128- it is time for a paradigm change in European farming, from an approach of „killing first” to an approach of „prevention first”, which is definitely not the approach taken in the plant health regime”

-- ENDS --

Further information

Link to the proposal:
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/pressroom/docs/cs-plant-health_e...

(1) Directive 2009/128/EC of 21 October 2009 specifies in article 14:

makes it mandatory for all EU farmers to apply Integrated Pest Management as from 2014”, and states “Member states shall take all necessary measures to promote low pesticide-input pest management, giving wherever possible priority to non-chemical methods, so that professional users of pesticides switch to practices and products with the lowest risk to human health and the environment among those available for the same pest problem.”

Note to editor: PAN Europe is a network of NGOs working to minimise negative effects and replace the use of hazardous chemicals with ecologically sound alternatives. Our network brings together consumer, public health, and environmental organisations, trades unions, women's groups and farmer associations from across 19 European countries. We work to eliminate dependency on chemical pesticides and to support safe sustainable pest control methods.

For further information please contact:

Isabelle Pinzauti, Communications Officer, +32497695842, isabelle [at] pan-europe.info

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

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.