Statement of 76 organisations on the state of play of the negotiations on the revision of EU rules on pesticides statistics
The undersigned organisations express their deep concerns about the direction the negotiations within trilogues are taking on the reform of the agriculture statistics regulation (SAIO). We call upon the Member States to support the European Parliament’s proposals ensuring precise data on the use of pesticides are collected and published without further delay.
To ensure that European agriculture shifts away from pesticide intensive practices, we need precise public data on what pesticides are used where, when, on which crops and in what quantities. Such data would indeed:
- Allow to measure meaningfully the progress and identify which sectors or crops and in which regions are facing difficulties to transition to sustainable agriculture practices;
- Enable the work of independent scientists and the medical community to connect the dots between exposure to specific pesticides or a cocktail thereof and harm to the environment and/or people;
- Enable the work of the public authorities to check whether the data submitted for pesticides authorisations actually matches the reality of their use;
- Enable public authorities to list more efficiently which pesticides end up in water and must therefore be monitored, so that they can take appropriate measures to protect, for example, residents of rural areas, and biodiversity;
- Rebuild trust of EU citizens in national governments, the EU institutions, and their willingness to protect public health and the environment despite the weight of private interests such as the agrochemical lobbies.
This trust of EU citizens is currently broken because it is obvious today that pesticide use and their risks for human health and the environment are out of control. Our legal system was meant to only allow pesticides that have i) no immediate or delayed harmful effect on human health ii) no unacceptable effects on plants and iii) no unacceptable effects on the environment. Unfortunately, the way this authorisation system has been applied in practice raises very serious doubts as to the safety of the pesticides products on the EU market. The evidence of unacceptable harm to biodiversity, and to frontline workers – agriculture workers – is piling up. This system does not even benefit economically the farmers themselves, and alternatives to pesticide intensive agriculture exist and are feasible.
In light of the proven impact of pesticides on public health and the environment, and the need to switch to alternative models of agriculture, the scarce amount of data on pesticide use collected and published is incomprehensible. California has put in place a comprehensive and public database on this matter already in the 90s. What is even more surprising is that the data exist but are left unexploited by public authorities. Indeed, farmers, and all other professional users of pesticides, are obliged – and have been obliged for more than 10 years – to keep at the disposal of public authorities records of the pesticides they use. And yet, these records are not systematically collected. To access these records, the public – e.g. doctors, scientists, a union of agriculture workers or a water supply company, have no choice but to follow a lengthy and heavy procedure, which often requires going to court.
In light of the latest public information, the negotiations seem to be progressing in a more positive direction. However, many key aspects are still extremely concerning and unclear. More specifically:
- While we welcome the recognition by the French Presidency of the need to have yearly data on pesticide use as well as an electronic collection of the farmers’ records, we are deeply concerned by the compromise text proposed as it does not guarantee that the farmers’ records will be collected soon enough. Indeed, the first year this data would be collected would be 2028, i.e. in 6 Meanwhile, irreversible damages to people’s health and biodiversity are bound to occur due to out of control pesticide exposure.
- There is also even a high risk that these records will actually never be collected, since this will depend on the harmonisation of a digital format to be decided in a separate procedure (implementing act under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009) without any time constraints or possibility for the European Parliament to have a say.
- While waiting for 2028, the compromise proposed suggests having only one survey (in 2026). This is insufficient to provide a clear picture of progress towards the reduction targets set for 2030 in the Farm to Fork Strategy. In addition, such a survey is only going to cover a selection of common crops between Member States and will only be defined later (via implementing acts) in a procedure in which the European Parliament will have no say.
- Finally, while we welcome the recognition that the rules on access to documents and on access to environmental information remain fully applicable, the legal text proposed regarding the dissemination of the data leaves too much room for interpretation. It does not offer the necessary legal certainty that the data on all pesticide use and sales will actually be published per active substance in full compliance with the rules on access to environmental information.
In short, if the compromise text on these aspects became law, the data collected on pesticide use will be too little, too late, with a concerning uncertainty as to what will actually be published.
We, therefore, call on the negotiators, and in particular the Council, to take into account these concerns, and specifically to:
- Shorten the transition period for the first digital collection of all farmers’ records for all crops – to Speed is a matter of commitment and investment of national governments. This investment is long overdue: the need for pesticide use data was already acknowledged in 1993;
- Make the annual collection of the farmers’ records mandatory in the SAIO text. This collection shall be done by the national authorities in charge of the implementation of the pesticides regulation;
- Create an obligation for the Commission to adopt – by delegated act under SAIO – before 1st January 2023, the harmonised electronic format of the farmers’ records; At the very least, if this electronic format is to be defined under an implementing act under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, this act shall then be adopted before July 2022;
- Adopt a provision on the dissemination of the data on pesticide use and sales similar to what the Parliament proposed stating explicitly and upfront what level of details will be published. It is essential that the data be published per active substance, area treated (ha) and per crop.
We also reiterate our concerns in relation to points that, to our knowledge, have not been discussed yet in the trilogues:
- Data on pesticide use at least at the regional level (NUTS3) are key for the data to be useful. The data also needs to be sorted between pesticides used in organic farming and those used in conventional farming;
- There are too many potential derogations in the Commission Proposal which could limit unduly the information transmitted to Eurostat regarding pesticides. These derogations or exemptions shall not apply to pesticide data since the data has been available for 10 years and their collection is long overdue.
For a truly modern and sustainable agriculture, governments must invest in the relevant data systems and put these data in the public domain where they belong. This cannot wait until 2028.
List of signatories:
|Alliance for Cancer Prevention
|Apicultural Research Educational Center
|ÄrztInnen für eine gesunde Umwelt
|Asociación Vida Sana
|Association Organic Gardens for Education
|BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
|BirdLife The Netherlands
|Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
|Compassion in World Farming
|Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren
|Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
|Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.
|Dutch Bee Conservation
|Ecodesign competence centre
|Ecologistas en Acción
|Carlos de Prada
|Friends of the Earth Malta
|Martin Galea De Giovanni
|Fundación Global Nature
|Eduardo de Miguel
|Green Federation “GAIA”
|Health and Environment Alliance
|Hnutí DUHA (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic)
|Hogar sin Toxicos
|Carlos de Prada
|Hungarian Agroecology Network Association
|IFOAM Organics Europe
|Integrated Resources Management Co ltd, (IRMCo)
|Kecskeméti Szatyor Közösség Egyesület
|Latvian Fund for Nature
|Lipu – BirdLife Italia
|Mouvement Ecologique Luxembourg
|Nature & Progrès Belgique
|FR and ES
|NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark
|June Rebekka Bresson
|Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe
|Pestizid Aktions-Netzwerk e.V. (PAN Germany)
|Pesticide Action Network Netherlands
|Plataforma Transgenicos Fora
|Polish Ecological Club
|Barbara Berardi Tadié
|Tamara Rodríguez Ortega
|Sociedad Españoña de Agricultura Ecológica
|SOS Faim Belgium
|Umweltinstitut München e.V.
|Union Nationale de l’Apiculture Française
|Via Pontica Foundation
|ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável
 Proposal for a Regulation related to statistics on agriculture input and output (SAIO): https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2021/0020(COD)&l=en
 See Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009
 European Journal of Risk Regulation , Volume 11 , Issue 3 , September 2020 , pp. 450 – 480 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/err.2020.18; Impacts des produits phytopharmaceutiques sur la biodiversité et les services écosystémiques : résultats de l’expertise scientifique collective INRAE-Ifremer | INRAE INSTIT
 Poux and Aubert (2018) An agroecological Europe in 2050: multifunctional agriculture for healthy eating, IDDRI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335054821_An_agroecological_Europe_in_2050_multifunctional_agriculture_for_healthy_eating_Findings_from_the_Ten_Years_For_Agroecology_TYFA_modelling_exercise
 Only very vague data are collected and published – see : https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/aei_pestuse
 Article 67 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009
 See 5th Environment Action Programme that already defined as target “reduction of chemical inputs”; it also specifically set as an objective “the significant reduction in pesticides use per unit of land under production […] » by 2000 and foresaw as an actions: “registration of sales and use of pesticides”: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/action-programme/env-act5/pdf/5eap.pdf