EU Parliament Strikes Down Pesticide Law


The European Parliament has rejected a law aimed at reducing the use of pesticides in the EU. On Wednesday in Strasbourg, the members voted against the EU Commission’s proposal to cut the use of plant protection products by half by 2030. The Parliament narrowly rejected further negotiations. Some agricultural associations welcome the decision, while others express disappointment.

The EU Commission proposed the Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR), also known as the Regulation for Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products, in June 2022. Since then, it has been the subject of heated debates among environmental groups, farmers’ organizations, political parties, and the agricultural industry.

The fate of the regulation is now sealed. The European farmers’ association Copa-Cogeca is among those pleased with the outcome, stating that the Parliament finally acknowledges that pesticide regulation is “poorly adaptedunrealistic and without funding,” according to the association’s chair, Christiane Lambert.

Consent Would Have Been an “Act of Fairness”

However, the Parliament’s rapporteur on the matter, Sarah Wiener (Green Party), described it as a “black day” for nature and European farmers. She argued that the majority of members prioritize the profits of large agricultural companies over health and the environment.

Environmental and nature conservation organizations echoed similar sentiments. NABU’s pesticide expert, Maximilian Wulfheide, noted that the SUR was a crucial part of the Green Deal and intended to reduce the negative impacts of pesticides on the environment. The decision against it, he said, would have been a “fairness act” towards many farmers who had already voluntarily set a positive example.

BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) referred to the rejection as a loss “for people and nature, as well as food security.” Following the recent reauthorization of the weedkiller glyphosate, the decision against the pesticide law is considered “another setback,” according to BUND’s chairman, Olaf Bandt.

New Proposal Considered Unlikely

After numerous amendments in Parliament, the law had already been significantly weakened before the final vote. Conservative members, in particular, had warned against imposing severe restrictions on farmers. CDU representative Norbert Lins emphasized the need to find solutions with, not against, agriculture.

The original law aimed to reduce pesticide use in the EU by 50% by 2030. The Commission had proposed a complete ban on plant protection products in particularly sensitive areas such as urban parks, schools, and Natura 2000 sites. Brussels may now consider a new proposal, but its likelihood is deemed low.