The European Commission is set to revise rules on pesticide use for all member states in the coming months, Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety has said.
“Change is afoot,” she told the EU’s Farm2Fork conference on Thursday, pointing out that the revision of EU rules on pesticides are due for adoption early next year.
Kyriakides said the EU focus will be on pesticides as the first proposal under the Farm to Fork strategy, which could be “emblematic of the change we want to achieve and the way we want to achieve this.”
“This is how we will turn the very ambitious targets of Farm to Fork and the biodiversity strategies on reducing the use and risk of chemical pesticides into reality,” she said.
Last year, the EU Farm to Fork strategy document set out its aim to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50%
Speaking at the Farm2Fork conference this week, European Commission executive vice president Franz Timmermans said EU food producers need to use less pesticides and only use fertilisers that are necessary.
“Consumers want to know what they're eating, and they want the food to be healthy and safe. Now, Europe has a huge track record on safe and healthy food. That's not the problem.
“The problem is that with the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis. We can't continue to produce our food in the same way the first,” he said, adding that the first to suffer the consequences of the climate and biodiversity crises will be farmers, fishers and people working in those sectors.
“We need to change our ways, combining demands of our consumers with the need to help the agricultural sector work within planetary boundaries, and so on. In addition to producing affordable food and healthy food, we also need to produce food that is sustainable,” he told the virtual conference.
Timmermans said producting sustainable food was the core issue with the Farm to Fork strategy, adding that delivering on the strategy “will help the sector steer in a different direction.”
“Many farmers want this, because they're the first to know that they will suffer the consequences of climate change if we don't, and consumers will have to react to that as well, so the whole chain will have to adapt to this new situation.
“There's a strong willingness, and in doing this, we stimulate member states to take the right decision, so that safe and sustainable food production also becomes affordable.”