The European Commission’s draft Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, currently under discussion, sets a 50% reduction by 2030 for the development of greener farming.
The harsh reality for European farmers
The sector considers it arbitrary and unrealistic because of the impact it will have, especially on the continuity of fruit and vegetable plantations in Southern Europe, as there is no effective alternative until the administrations invest means and budget in the search for these solutions.
The Joint Fruit and Vegetable Committee of France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, made up of the respective sectoral organisations and ministries of agriculture, has put its commitment to sustainability on the table. Progress in the rationalisation of the use of plant protection products or pesticides for a greener farming and the implementation of alternative methods such as biological control and integrated and organic production are proof of this.
One of the most repeated requests that the EU receives is that, in drawing up its policies, it should take into account not only environmental viability but also economic viability, and that decisions should be taken on the basis of scientific data and impact studies on each crop.
The obstacle of third countries
Meanwhile, imported products continue to be allowed to come from countries that use pesticides and use prohibited practices within the European Union and that compete in our market under superior conditions. These imports, in addition to not meeting the expectations of European consumers, are causing the relocation of fruit and vegetable production to regions of the world that offer far fewer guarantees.
The Integrated Pest Management practices shared in the European IPMWORKS project are proving that it is possible to successfully reduce the use of pesticides for a greener farming in Europe without compromising crop production and quality. Eduardo Crisol, from the Production Techniques Department of COEXPHAL (Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers in the province of Almeria), is part of this project and assures us that “the example of the farmers in Almeria with biological control and biodiversity serves to illustrate to the European Parliament in this sense”.
An organic farming for all
The Spanish Federation of Associations of Exporting Producers of Fruit, Vegetables, Flowers and Live Plants (FEPEX) also considers it essential to postpone the entry into force of future regulation and to slow down the pace of adaptation to the new sustainability requirements stemming from the European Green Pact. All the more so after the consequences of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
The new regulation means a drastic reduction in the basic tools available to producers to deal with pests. Farmers do not use phytosanitary products for convenience or because they make their production more profitable, but because, at present, it is the only way they can continue to produce food.
In short, the sector is calling for a coordinated and effective strategy from the European Union to optimise the tools still available in Brussels to combat pests and diseases.
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