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).[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] The evidence of unacceptable harm to biodiversity,[4] and to frontline workers – agriculture workers – is piling up.[5] This system does not even benefit economically the farmers themselves,[6] and alternatives to pesticide intensive agriculture exist and are feasible.[7]

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.[8] California has put in place a comprehensive and public database on this matter already in the 90s.[9] 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.[10] 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,[11] 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:

  1. 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[12];
  2. 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;
  3. 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;
  4. 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:

ORGANISATIONSTATESIGNATORY
1 ADENYFR Sylvie Beltrami
2 Agroecology EuropeEU Lili Balogh
3 Alliance for Cancer PreventionUK Helen Lynn
4 Apicultural Research Educational CenterGR Fani Hatjina
5 ApimondiaGR Jeff Pettis
6 ÄrztInnen für eine gesunde UmweltAT Hanns Moshammer
7 Asociación Vida SanaES Ángeles Parra
8 Association Organic Gardens for EducationSI Anamarija Slabe
9 Aurelia StiftungDE Thomas Radetzki
10 BeelifeEU Noa Simon
11 Biom AssociationHR Željka Rajković
12 BirdLife Europe and Central AsiaEU Ariel Brunner
13 BirdLife The NetherlandsNL Cees Witkamp
14 BuglifeUK Matt Shardlow
15 Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)CH David Azoulay
16 ClientEarthEU Anaïs Berthier
17 Compassion in World FarmingEU Olga Kikou
18 Coordination gegen BAYER-GefahrenDE Jan Pehrke
19 Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)EU Nina Holland
20 Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.DE Sascha Müller-Kraenner
21 Dutch Bee ConservationNL Maaike Molenaar
22 Earth ThriveUK/Serbia Zoe Lujic
23 Earth TrekHR Damir Grgić
24 Eco-HvarHR Vivan Grisogono
25 ECOCITY GR Eri Bizani
26 Ecodesign competence centreLV Jana Simanovska
27 Ecologistas en AcciónES Koldo Hernandez
28 EEBEU Jeremy Wates
29 EFFATEU Kristjan Bragason
30 ÉgalitéIT Dario Dongo
31 EPBAFR Cindy Adolphe
32 EURAFEU Gerry Lawson
33 EureauEU Oliver Loebel
34 FODESAMES Carlos de Prada
35 Friends of the Earth MaltaMT Martin Galea De Giovanni
36 Fundación Global Nature ES Eduardo de Miguel
37 Generations FuturesFR Nadine Lauverjat
38 Global 2000AT Helmut Burtscher-Schaden
39 Green Federation “GAIA”PL Jakub Skorupski
40 Health and Environment AllianceEU Angeliki Lysimachou
41 Hnutí DUHA (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic)CZ Anna Kárníková
42 Hogar sin Toxicos ES Carlos de Prada
43 Hungarian Agroecology Network AssociationHU Lili Balogh
44 IAWRDE Wolfgang Deinlein
45 IFOAM Organics EuropeEU Eric Gall
46 Institute Marquès ES Mireia Folguera
47 Integrated Resources Management Co ltd, (IRMCo)MT Anna Spiteri
48 Justice PesticidesFR Arnaud Apoteker
  ORGANISATIONSTATE SIGNATORY
49 Kecskeméti Szatyor Közösség EgyesületHU László Szigeti
50 Latvian Fund for NatureLV Baiba Vitajevska-Baltvilka
51 Lipu – BirdLife ItaliaIT Federica Luoni
52 LPNPT Inês Machado
53 Mouvement Ecologique LuxembourgLU Roger Dammé
54 Nature & Progrès BelgiqueBE Marc Fichers
55 Navdanya InternationalInternational Elisa Catalini
56 Neo-AgriFR and ES Sidney Flament-Ortun
57 NOAH – Friends of the Earth DenmarkDK June Rebekka Bresson
58 Pesticide Action Network (PAN) EuropeEU Martin Dermine
59 Pestizid Aktions-Netzwerk e.V. (PAN Germany)DE Susanne Smolka
60 PAN ItaliaIT Fabio Taffetani
61 Pesticide Action Network NetherlandsNL Margriet Mantingh
62 Plataforma Transgenicos ForaPT Lanka Horstink
63 Polish Ecological ClubPL Maria Staniszewska
64 PollinisFR Barbara Berardi Tadié
65 ROMAPISRO Constantin Dobrescu
66 SEO/BirdLifeES Tamara Rodríguez Ortega
67 Sociedad Españoña de Agricultura EcológicaES Concha Fabeiro
68 SNAFR Frank Alétru
69 SOS Faim BelgiumBE Jonas Jaccard
70 Stadtbienen e.V.DE Johannes Weber
71 SumOfUsInternational Eoin Dubsky
72 Umweltinstitut München e.V.DE Vera Baumert
73 Union Nationale de l’Apiculture FrançaiseFR Clémence Rémy
74 Via Pontica FoundationBG Ina Agafonova
75 WECF InternationalNL Sascha Gabizon
76 ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre SustentávelPT Pedro Horta

 

 

[1] 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

[2] See Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009

[3] 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

[4] Goulson, D. Pesticides linked to bird declines. Nature 511, 295–296 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13642

[5] LeMonde, “Agriculteurs intoxiqués”: dans toute l’Europe, les maladies des pesticides abandonnés à leur sort, S. Horel, 17 February 2022 l

[6] Pesticides: a model that’s costing us dearly – Le Basic

[7] 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

[8] Only very vague data are  collected and published – see  : https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/aei_pestuse

[9] Wilhoit, History of Pesticide Use Reporting in California, Chapter 1pp 3-14, ACS Symposium Series Vol. 1283 – see ACS Symposium Series (ACS Publications)

[10] Article 67 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009

[11] The latest 4 column document published in the Council register on 23 May 2022 : pdf (europa.eu)

[12] 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

Joint Statement Concerning Urgent Need for Precise Public Data on the Use of Pesticides across Europe